Friday, June 15, 2007

Little Star ...

Today I remembered a little girl who passed away before she was born.

It has been a day of extraordinary grief.

There is too much emotion, too much sadness. I cried silently during the memorial service, tears rolling down my face quicker than I could dry them.

After, we filed out of the chapel slowly, everyone pausing to hug the mom and then the dad. The dad is a long-time friend. We hugged tightly. “I love you,” he said. “I love you, too,” I whispered. And then I turned to his dad, the grandfather of the lost little girl, and broke down.

“I’m so sorry,” I finally managed to say. He thought I was expressing my condolences. But I was apologizing for being overcome.

Some emotion won’t be contained.

The dad spoke at the service, telling us stories about his daughter. He is a very funny man, day to day. And he injected his comments with humor this morning, had us laughing through our tears. But when he first took the podium, he laughed nervously.

“No way I’m getting through this,” he said. And then his face contorted in such grief that I wanted to step onto the altar and hug him, to hold his hand while he spoke. Even in a chapel filled with family and friends, he looked painfully alone.

That’s the thing about grief: It grips you and there is no shortcut through the pain. Everyone copes in their own way, in their own time.

As I hugged him after the service, he said, “Thanks for coming. It helps. It really does.” Later, almost everyone headed to their home to be with them and there was a lot of laughter.

I held someone’s seven-month-old daughter. She is impossibly cute. She chewed on my fingers and my knuckles and screeched and flailed her chubby arms as though her hands were slapping water in a pool.

Life goes on, they say. And it does. But I wonder why such things happen. Why give this couple 8 1/2 months of expectation and joy, only to have it suddenly stripped away and replaced by unfathomable grief? What is the lesson?

The father’s best friend spoke briefly at the service, and his words resonated deep within me. Seize the day, he was saying, in his eloquent way. Follow your heart’s desire. Set aside fear. Live.

That is the lesson for me, the reminder. I will honor the memory of this little girl by living that inspiration. That inspiration is her gift to us.

As I stepped out of the cool, dim light of the chapel into the Chicago sunlight, a butterfly fluttered by. And I thought about her little soul being both a part of everything that surrounds us as well as part of each of us, ourselves. I thought about the power of love and its ability to touch the lives of those we’ve yet to know.

One of the readings today was from The Little Prince:

In one of the stars I will be living
In one of them I will be laughing
When you look at the stars at night ...
You – only you – will have stars that can laugh!
And when your sorrow is comforted,
You will be content that you have loved me
As I will be content for having loved you.
And we will always be together.

Her parents named her Faith.


Blogger Mercurie said...

That is sad. I never had coped poorly with deaths, but I can't see how the death of a child can be anything but tragic. I guess I've been lucky in that I have only experienced the death of a child once and that when I was a child myself. One of my best friends when I was in third grade drowned. I think it was the first time someone in my life besides elderly relatives had died.

That having been said, three years before I was born my mother lost a baby when she was only three days old. I often wondered what my older sister would have looked like. For some reason I always pictured her as petite and slender, with long dark hair. Strange how the death of a child before one was even ca

1:40 PM  

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