Wednesday, December 06, 2006

On The Loss Of A Child

I have no clue, honestly, if this post belongs here in Cobwebs Of The Mind.

"Maybe", the little voice deep inside says, "Teddy keep your mouth shut. This is something you so do not want to open up. This is beyond understanding and beyond normative individuals to comprehend. Be quiet. Words are just not going to work. You will fail as you must fail, and all you will get for your post is one whole lot of black and lots of pain."

Yesterday, over at my trip to Miss Snark, my eye caught the following post headline: "Samuel Greenberg, age two" and believe me folks I immediately knew I should not read further. I knew it as I knew in the cliche, day comes from night. And I knew if I did read it and found out that what I suspected to be is true, that my normative world would once again come crashing down in a whole lot of black pain. But of course, my eyes continued because I knew that the tragedy had already happened - and the events no matter how many tears would be laid at the ubiquitous throne of God, would not change. And so I discovered that a Literary Agent, Daniel Greenberg had lost a two year old son in a car accident. (NY Daily News Report)

I knew then that the seed within had been planted and the nightmares would return. It is not as if I do not know many people, who like myself, have lost children. Unfortunately, no matter how unnatural it is that a parent stand at an open grave, waiting for their own child to be lowered within, it takes place, and especially where I live, in a land torn about by war, more often than any one cares to think about.

And I also knew, oh how I know, the utter devastation the parents of this child are going to have to confront. I knew exactly how the deep dark and horrible fingers of steely death also laid a hand upon their hearts. I know just what night terrors and nightmares await these parents even in their waking hours.

Age will creep up overnight. The mind will not stop with its teasing "what if" scenario and you begin to know that madness is but a short step away. Nay, it is not a short step, it has already encompassed you and taken hold of your whole being.

I do not know the Greenberg's at all. And as an author, yes I have heard the name of the agency, and I have absolutely no remembrance if I ever wrote them a query. I am sure somewhere in the many query rejections that I have garnered, the name of this agency will show up once or twice though.

But I do know that the Greenbergs have now joined a very special society. One where you never ask for membership. A society where when you see the members gathered together, if you are normal, you shun like you would run from Satan himself. They have joined a society to which I have been a member for almost 17 years. And once in there is no way out. It is a lifetime membership with no option to leave. Ever.

The days will be replete with black and death. Breathing, which comes so natural to all of us, will be an impossible task. And no, I will not tell you it will get better. Because it simply does not get better. You learn to live with it. That is the best you can hope for. You just learn to live with it - or you don't. That will be up to you.

When I stood and eulogized my two and a half year old daughter, Nessyah Shachar, (Nessyah means "Miracle of God and Shachar means "Dawn") before she was buried I realized I had met madness. In a period of two days due to an accident which could have been averted if a gas technician had been paying attention to what he was supposed to be doing, I went utterly and totally insane. I found my wife at the time and my daughter unconscious, overcome by CO fumes. I am a battlefield medic. I am used to triage. I am used to death. I thought I had seen it all. Until I had to do triage on my own family waiting for the ambulance to arrive.

Even then, I knew I had been too late for her. I discovered them one damn minute too late. One minute which caused my life to go from heaven on earth to hell. One minute of a "what if" that would play out in my brain until my dying day.

I do not welcome the Greenbergs into this club. I do not want them to be here. I do not want any human being on the face of this earth to ever be forced to enter the club. There is no welcoming coffee and no great words of wisdom. There are no answers nor any possibility of understanding the eternal plan if you believe in such. There is just blackness and sorrow where love and laughter used to be.

I will sit in silence with them. And as Job, I will listen as they curse deep inside their hearts the day they were born. I will sit silently and hold their hands as they look upon the world and ask those same questions that man has asked since the dawn of understanding. And I will have no answer to the terrifying question that will escape from their lips: "Why?"

I will hold them in my heart. I will not only feel for them and empathize with them, I will once again make that sorrow part of my own. I will lift an accusing fist towards the heavens and scream out in pain, "Why?" with them.

I also know one other thing. Something I have learned in long years of riding a wild roller coaster which is life. I know that there is no greater force, and nothing will move the throne of He who created and maintains this world with more power and more force than the silent tears of the Greenbergs.

The Zohar tells us that one gate of the heavens, and only one, is open all the time. This is the gate of tears. And each tear is a pearl. And every single tear has a purpose. And the pain of each and every tear is not lost within the multitude.

It is beyond me. Beyond understanding. Beyond comprehension. Beyond pain. Beyond black. Beyond any emotion or feeling or thought that can ever be described with paltry words.

And so I sit in darkness with the Greenbergs. And with them, along with all those who were assigned membership into this special club, I sit in silence and allow the pain to once more assault my body. I will not look for purpose, nor for reason. I will do the only thing a frail human being can do. I will hold their hands and allow the eternal never-ending tears to fall and watch as the silent angels do their bidding and place each tear with reverence and humility before the throne of God.

And in my heart and mind, I will allow the black to envelop my soul. I will not welcome it but I will know I cannot combat it. And I will continue to hold the hands of these people whom I never met, and will likely never know and do the only thing possible for a frail human being. I will sit with them in silence, a silence full of anger and hope and love and pain, and when the black becomes overwhelming I will hold them close without words, without platitudes, without statements of eternal justice. I will hold them close through that evil blackness and in silence allow them to know there are those, sadly enough, that do understand their pain. It is all I can do and all that any human being can hope to do.

And as we say in Hebrew: "Yihe Zichro Baruch."

Posted On: Cobwebs Of The Mind

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Paula said...

You are truly an amazing, insightful,compasionate man. As painful as it is to share personal experience of loss, you handle it with such gentleness and heart. Anger, bitterness and insanity only touch the surface of the feelings when a child is lost. People often say with time the pain lessens. As you know the words are often spoken by one whom has never had to live through this heart crushing time. As I sit here writing through tears I am in awe of you. You see I too avoid the painful stories such as Samuel Greenberg because I too am an unfortunate member.

Thank you again for your heart and may you find comfort in knowing your words comfort others.

Kristen King said...

I don't know if it belongs here either, Teddy, but I sure am glad you wrote it. I haven't lost a child myself, but I watched my parents slowly self-destruct after my younger brother was killed in an accident while horsing around with friends. As miserable as I was (and, let's face it, still am after almost 4 years) when it happened, I can't even begin to imagine what it must have been like for my mom and dad. It doesn't get better. It's not okay. It's never going to be okay. It's just going to be different. Forever.


Ted W. Gross said...

Kristin & this subject I will remain a bit silent. This is the kind of pain which words only will cloud at times....

Sharon said...

Teddy, tehre's nothing I can say. Just wanted you to know I read this and it touched my in a very very deep place.
I have not lost a child but it's the horror that sits on the shoulder of ever parent, and there were times I knew I was on the very edge of it.
I aso remember distinctly the day when my cousin died after playing with a home made bomb; I saw him, covered in blood, just before my father drove him to hospital. I was too young to know what dewath meant but that I knew the meaning of it from the reactions of al the adults in our family.
God bless you.