I have been struggling with how to put into words where I am now. I still hurt daily and I have the knowledge that no matter how much someone cares, they just cannot understand where I am and how I feel. And I pray that they never have to.
I received an email today called The Sounds Of Silence. It was written by some parents who lost their 22 year old son six years ago. If it has been six years for them, I guess I know that this is forever. I changed the names in his letter, but here it is.
The sounds of silence are everywhere—it is the silent pain of the loss of our daughter and granddaughter, it is the silence of our home because one of our children is gone, and it is the silence of the sudden quiet that comes over people when we mention Megan and Kendall.
We have become both better and worse in the two years since Megan and Kendall died. We are better because we are able to get on with our lives and even enjoy ourselves occasionally. We have gotten worse because, as the years go by, we feel their loss more deeply.
We feel their loss every time we participate in a celebration marking some milestone of our friends and relatives or their children. We feel the loss because any celebrations of our own will always be incomplete—two people will always be absent and not there to celebrate with us or to enjoy their own milestones. The pain of their absence is always present at these events.
When Megan and Kendall died, the pain of their loss was a sharp acute screaming pain that tore a hole inside of us. Now, the pain is a silent quiet steady pain. The hole is still inside us, covered by a scar, but it is still there. It only screams out loud sometimes now and more often just remains as a quiet steady and never-ending ache and sadness—a silent pain.
The silence of our home is a different kind of quiet. By now, if Megan and Kendall had lived, they may have been out on their own. We might have been “empty nesters” anyway. But, when a home becomes empty because of the death of a child, it is a different kind of empty nest. Trisha and Christopher are married and out on their own, the way it should be. But, Megan and Kendall are gone for a different reason.
So, the silence of our empty nest is not the silence of knowing we raised three children and now they are out leading their own lives. Instead it is the silence of a home that is empty because one child is gone forever—of having to deal with the reality that phone calls only come from two children, not three; that only two children stop by for a visit, not three; that one child is forever gone from the nest. There is a silence in our home that often seems to pervade every space. It is a sad silence, not the temporary quiet of a happy home.
And then, there is the silence of relatives and friends when we talk about Megan and Kendall—not about their death but about the things they did while alive. It is as if Megan and Kendall have become a forbidden topic because they died, as if their death wiped out the 22 years, or 4 months they did live. It occurs when a relative whispers that our daughter and granddaughter died when someone asked how they were—like their life and what happened to them was a big secret. It occurs when people suddenly get a funny look on their faces and don’t know what to say next when you mention something about Megan and Kendall. It occurs when you get the feeling that people want to avoid you because you remind them of a horror that could happen to anyone. It is a silence that reminds you that your emotions and feelings are different from that of others and that you will always have to live with the sounds of Silence resulting from your child’s death.
I miss you girls.