When you are a parent and your child is hurt or sick, you not only try to help them get better, but you are also comforted by the general belief that you are I can help them improve. It may not be the cleaning solution you give or the medicine you put in their mouth – you may have to take them to a nurse or doctor who has the right equipment and knowledge. set – but you believe you are the one who will do it. take them to the right place, by car or taxi or, God forbid, an ambulance, and that once you are there, you will sit next to them or maybe hold them in your lap and they will find that what is needed. Add a little time to repair, heal, rest, and you’ll soon have a great story to tell.
However, this is not always the case. Sometimes, nurses and doctors can’t fix what’s wrong. Sometimes, children die. Whatever is wrong with your child gets worse and he suffers and dies. After they die, their bodies begin to decompose and are then zipped into a black bag and taken away by a chef in a black van. A few days later, your child is buried in a hole in the ground or burned in an oven that burns his body to ashes, which you take back to your house and place on a shelf. He wishes you could take a kitchen knife and stick it in you near one of your shoulders and pull it down and across the river to the other side of your body. Then you would tear away the skin, fat, muscle and viscera, then take your child out of you and kiss and hold him and try hard to fix what you couldn’t fix the first time . But that wouldn’t work. So you sit there like a dilapidated disused train station as freight train after freight train roars by.
Maybe one will crash and explode, destroy the station and kill you, and you can go have your baby. Could that be so bad?
Why do I feel compelled to talk about it, write about it, publish information that is meant to make people feel the same way I do? How is my wife feeling? How do my other sons feel? When done right, they will hurt. Why do I want to hurt people? (And I do.) Did my son’s death make me a monster? That is indeed possible. It is not holy. Things go wrong. Maybe it’s because I write and do freelance work that I can’t help but try to share or discuss the biggest, most seismic event that has happened to me. The truth is that despite the death of my son, I still love people. And I truly believe, whether it’s true or not, that if people felt a fraction of what my family felt and still feel, they would know that what is this life and this world really about.
Not often, I find myself wanting to ask people I know and love to think about a certain child of theirs, who died in their arms. If you have more than one child, it is important that you choose one for this exercise. If you are reading this and have a child, do it now. Think them, in your hands. The tubes come from various holes, some of them are natural, some of them are made with a scalpel. There is a mess coming from some of the pipes. There is a smell. Your child’s body temperature drops. There is no breathing, none of the movement that seems to be the main activity of children, no heartbeat. But just like that; Imagine looking for your baby’s heartbeat and you can’t find it. Their hearts will no longer beat. It’s not a bad dream you can wake up from; defibrillation will not work. It won’t hurt because your child is dead. After a while, someone will put them in the refrigerator drawer, just like you do with celery that turns white and soft when you forget about it. Have you ever made funny horns on their head with shampoo while they were in the bath? You can’t do that anymore. Did they ask for help with their shoelaces and homework? Did you comfort them after you sprained your knee? That will never happen again.
There is no way I would ask anyone to do that face to face. Honestly, that idea makes me laugh. Where would we do it? In the kitchen, maybe. Do I make them tea first? But the thing is, I feel motivated. That’s one thing grief does to me. It makes me want to make you understand. It makes me want you to understand.
I want you to understand.
But you, mathematically, cannot. You forget that my son is dead. Then he remembers. Then forget again.
I don’t forget. I don’t think much of the Victorian era, but the idea of wearing all black after the death of a loved one makes sense to me. For a while, though, I wanted you to know, even from across the street or through a telescope, that I was grieving.
Quoted from A Working Heart, by Rob Delaney, copyright © 2022. Reprinted with permission from Spiegel & Grau.