Remembering A Loved One Brings Sunlight

Remembering A Loved One Brings Sunlight


Alice J. Wisler

Children identify us. When we are with a group of adults who know we have children, and have yet to meet them, the question is raised: "How many children do you have?" It is answered with a number. "Two." "Five." Then if the person asking is curious or polite enough he will ask, "And how old are they?" We give the ages and with it, most likely the names of our children. "Tim's six and Angela's four and Luke will be three months old in a week." It doesn't matter if we are a single parent or married, a working out of the home mom or dad or an in the home mom or dad, we are identified by our children. We swap birth stories, first day of kindergarten tales and frustrations over the teen-ager who is determined to pierce some body part.

We're parents and our love and compassion for our children is so great that we ache when they have had a bad day or are not invited to the party.

When a child dies, suddenly, against our will, life is changed forever. We are thrown into a dark pit, unsure we will ever see the light of day again (and do we even care if we don't?), we crumple against the wall, fall into a heap as our hearts throb with a pain unlike we have ever known. We were to protect and nurture our child, where did we go wrong? How come we couldn't keep him from the car accident or the cancer? Why couldn't we stop her from taking her own life or getting that disease?

When a child dies, we are certain we have failed as a parent. Are we worthy to think we were ever any good at it or to continue on nurturing our surviving children? If we had been the 'good' parent we aimed to be, wouldn't our child still be with us today?

Unfortunately, the majority of society doesn't know what to do with us as we sit in the dark pit repeating over and over, "WHY?" through quivering lips. We are now bereaved parents, members of a group we never imagined we'd have to join. Parental Bereavement happens to others, not to me, we find ourselves stammering.

The dark, hopeless days continue, each as colorless as the previous. But, unexpectedly, one day we notice something yet to be seen on the walls of the dark pit. It is a filtering of the sun's rays, casting a tone of gold. For the first time we are able to smile as we recall a memory. We see his little body dressed only in a purple swimsuit, kissing the neighbor's dog. We see her in the starched chef's hat preparing breakfast for the family.

We need to remember and we want others to remember our child. When people fail to think of our child and share a memory or acknowledge her life, it is as if our child has not been invited to the party. We still have the number of children we had before our child's death, it's just that one child (or in some cases, more) is not physically present now but she will always be alive in our hearts.

This book is filled with memories because our children lived and loved, laughed and ate. Just like any other child. These children are no longer visible to the eyes now, but that does not mean they did not live. Nor does in mean they do not continue to live. In our hearts, in our memories, in Heaven.

The memories give us tender smiles as well as tears. They are slices of sunlight in an often dreary day.

Invite your child's memory to the party. Recall with us what he liked to eat. In doing so, he is here, with us, smiling.

copyright@2000 Alice J. Wisler

About the Author

From the cookbook of memories, Slices Of Sunlight: A Cookbook of Memories by Alice J. Wisler. (2000) Available from Barnes and Noble and on sale at bookstores. Proceeds to the National Childhood Cancer Foundation. Visit Alice at her website.

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