The hardest thing for any parent
to do is bury a child. Be the child young or old it matters not.
This story is about my parents. I grew up with the assumption my
parents were strong and nothing could ever shatter or dissolve
the suit of armor they wore. I was wrong on both counts. I had a
very difficult time writing this, but I felt it necessary to jot
down the events which changed my view on so many things in life.
It is not a pleasant story to tell or to read. I just hope it
helps someone else as they make their journey down life's complex
and rocky highway.
It was late autumn of 2006 and
my youngest brother Charles had died from a massive coronary. I
for the first time saw my mother cry when Charles died quickly
and without warning of any kind. My brother's death disturbed all
of us, but my father seemed unmoved and uncaring. Charles' wife
Evelyn was with him when he passed away. I think she of all of us
suffered the cruelest blow. My father took to locking himself
away from the rest of us more and more. I never realized just how
deeply Charles' death had affected him. I knew my brother and
father had bad blood between them and thought maybe he did care,
but he just did not want to show his true emotions. We buried
Charles and life went on, perhaps a little emptier, but life
continued. My mother and I took turns crying and consoling each
other. It seemed the pain would never stay gone for
I remember my mother on several
occasions after Charles' death saying, "A mother should not have
to bury her child."
I agreed with her. Not knowing
what to say or do, I became standoffish and grieved the loss in
my own way. Looking back now I know I was wrong in doing what I
did. I just pretended he wasn't gone at all. Strange how your
mind has its own way of handling the undesirable situations which
In late summer of 2007 another
of my brothers Billy, who was one of the middle children, died in
the same manner as Charles had. My mother and I had been calling
him numerous times and when we received no response to our many
phone calls; we traveled to his home. He had come home from work
the day before, as he sat and drank his beer his life ended. I
thank God to this day he did not suffer, but went peacefully
after a hard day's work. I just wish he had not died alone.
Billy's wife Diane, who I came to love as a sister, died not a
year before him.
I cannot tell you of the horror
and pain I felt that day. I would rather remember all the things
I loved about him. My mother when she learned of Billy's death
hinged on the verge of death herself. I have never been so
frightened in all my life. It seemed she would never stop crying
those bitter love inspired teardrops. I was affected in the same
way. Nothing it seemed could help me through those desperate days
and nights to follow.
My father though visibly upset
once again held back and tried to be our strength. He was not in
the best of health so the day of Billy's funeral he remained at
home by himself. I felt as if some type of curse had befallen our
family. Charles was only forty-two when he died and Billy was
forty-four. A phobia of sorts crept into my brain and I asked
myself, who would be next. I feared it would be my mother, her
health was not the greatest, nor was my father's.
At the cemetery during Billy's
gravesite service I had the oddest feeling something was not
right. I excused myself and drove as quickly as I could back to
my parents' house. When I entered the house there was an eerie
silence that made my skin crawl.
"Hello! Dad is everything okay?"
I called as I walked down the hall to his room.
My heart raced and then stopped.
A fear gripped my heart as I walked a little faster down the
hall. Nothing prepared me for the sight as I opened his bedroom
door. There was my father sitting on the edge of his bed crying
like a lost child. My heart broke and I held him close to me. I
knew he needed the release of all the pain and loss he had
bottled up inside of him. It is not easy to be the comforter of
those who comfort but a sense of relief swept over me. I had been
so hypercritical of my father for his coldness regarding my
brothers, but now I understood how hard it had been for him. They
were his children, his sons and the pain had been there all the
while waiting to overtake him.
It was not easy when my father
passed away. I had always thought him to be a rock and the
backbone of our family. At his funeral it was not the soldier he
had been I thought about, but rather the man who for a moment had
cried on my shoulder because he lost the children he
For my Daddy:
It was your tears that I
that heartache you held
all your pain
falling from your eyes. Oh,
It was your tears that I
that tenderness I had never
all your fear
falling down your check. Oh,