Sunday, January 29, 2012


    Back in the old days of ships and sailors, traders and whalers if a captain was lacking men for his crew, he would “shanghai” an able bodied man or two.  A likely target would be found, knocked out, trussed up and put aboard ship. When the unfortunate fellow awoke seasick with a pounding headache, he was so far out to sea there was no choice but to do or die.
    When a child dies, when your child dies you are shanghaied.  You are not only tied up and thrown into the dark hold of a ship you never asked to board, you are stunned, shocked and paralyzed. You are on a ship you never wanted to be on going to places you never wanted to go. It is dark. It is lonely. You are afraid and it hurts. When you wake up you cry and cry and cry. Your head hurts. Your hearts hurts. It hurts to breathe. It hurts to think.  It hurts to go to sleep and it hurts to wake up.  Everyday you wait for night so you can go to bed and every night you pray for morning so you can get up. You spend your nights in a fetal position, curling tighter and tighter to stop the hurt, but it is never tight enough.  Those nights are haunted by the spectral ghosts of woulda, shoulda, coulda.  You are too terrified to speak or weep.
   You force yourself eat. The bread of grief dries out your  mouth so you cannot chew.  The only hunger you have is for your child and the life you once knew.  With your whole heart you want your child to come back and with your whole heart you would never take heaven away.
    Eventually you stumble up onto the deck and the glaring sun blinds your grief dimmed eyes and you wonder how it has the audacity to shine.  You turn your back against it holding darkness around you like a cloak.  
  Sometimes a ray of light penetrates that darkness. Someone cries with you. Someone remembers. Someone says your child’s name. Someone dares to ask what it is like to live without your child.  Someone else’s child dies and you reach out.  Somehow this brings another ray of light into your darkness.
    You stare out across the vastness of the water, the ocean of tears you have cried. The same missing and wishing, day after weary day, makes you nauseous. You are tired of crying but tears still come. You are tired of dry bread days and fetal nights. You are tired of life yet life goes on. You creep around the rail and continually cry out to God to take you now because there is no life on this grey ship.
    You would have, you should have and you could have but you can not because you are not God.  He is still God even after you screamed “WHY?” a thousand times and got no answer. He is still God even if He did not take you when you cried. He is still God even after you questioned every single thing you knew about Him. He is still God even if your child died. He is still God and the light begins to dawn.
    The darkness, instead of terrifying, comforts, protects, lulls you to gentle sleep. You welcome the sun once again as  a friend.  Your child is still gone. You are still missing and wishing but you have sweet memories. It still hurts yet you are walking in the light.  You begin to see color again. You feel love. You have hope. You find joy and you wear red shoes for courage.

I love you bunches and hands reaching out.   Pat


  1. oh Pat, what a wonderful way to start my morning. I know what it is to be shanghaied so well. Thank you Lord for the welcome warmth.

  2. What a gift for writing you have. Thank you sooooo much for sharing your heart. Keep writing!

  3. Too beautiful, too poignant,too hard, too melting. We are blessed by you and your love for the rest of us.

  4. Yep. That's exactly what it's like. It stinks and you write awesome and described it perfectly. I'm not sure if I'm quite as colorful as I was tho'. I'm still kinda pastel. I'm too weird to be all black you see...

  5. Ronda - how long has your grief journey been? You may still be traveling in the shadows.

  6. Hugs, Pat! Your ability to express is a gift to many, I think.

  7. It sure helps to read about how it feels so I can get a glimpse into other's is something I can't understand and to be honest (don't want to! Please God!)But there are so many times I wish to have the right thing to say to help. This makes it clearer. God bless

  8. Yes Karen, we help each other. I remember talking to you and getting insight for Levi about what it was like to have a close sibling die. You shared the things that helped you.