Every November 15th is the anniversary of my son Joe’s death. There is no celebration, no blowing out of candles, no cards, no presents. Anniversaries are markers along the way, not reasons for laughter and joy. Whether it’s a month, a year, several years, or several decades, all of us have something sharp in our hearts – there’s been a rip in the fabric of our lives.
Each of us tries to find, and some of us do find, ways to mend the fabric, to wear our bravest smile, to share our laugh, to open our hearts again, to risk heartache, to dare to dance, to love again. But we each know that the tapestry of our life is forever changed, forever altered.
That tapestry is not all anguish, not all tears, not all sorrow. The passage of time, for all of us who have suffered a devastating loss, provides some softening of the harsh emotions.
The Sudden Infant Death Syndrome group – in monthly meetings, visits to the newly bereaved, efforts to find an explanation for our loss, shared community of bereavement – provide a home where fellow survivors are to be found. We come from every walk of life, every race, every religious belief. We come in all shapes and sizes and all ages. We don’t share the same parents, but we are brothers and sisters in shared experience.
We are thrown together by something that we still don’t quite understand. We still fight it, fight the acceptance of it, the finality of death. We fight the “what ifs” and the “if only’s.” We all do. We struggle to forgive others, and we struggle to forgive ourselves.
But we share a hope, a hope that others may not follow our lonely paths, and a hope that with our shared remembrance we can smooth out the fabric not only of our own life but of those around us.
So for a moment — remember your child, your special one, your love, your joy – and keep your candle of hope lit. See that the story of your life is still being written, and that your smile, your laugh, your heart create a new tapestry. The tapestry that is being woven each day that you summon the bravery in simply going on, some days just putting one foot in front of the other, but continuing to do so. We’ll always remember, we all share a special courage, the courage that we can, somehow, take it one day at a time and face the world and the future knowing that while we have a deep sorrow, we also have a deep love.