Today was not a good day. Attending the burial service of anyone is sad, but when the funeral is of a young man of twenty-four, it is especially sad. He was not a family member, but in a way, he is connected to my family. My four year old great-grandson was his god-son, and his nephew, so yes, I think he is connected to me, and I mourn his early death. A mother can feel the pain of another mother at a graveside, and I said to my daughters, I hope God takes me before I have to stand here burying one of you.
The day brought back a memory from my own life. I also buried a child, and although it was nearly forty years ago, it is as fresh in my memory as the funeral I attended this morning. My son Stephen, was only eleven months when he died, so I did not have the twenty-four years of memories that Patrick’s family had, but to a mother it is no different if a childs life is years or months, it is your childs life.
The one good thing my Stephen’s death did for my husband and myself was to put everything else in proportion, any difficulties we had after that were judged minor, and we often would say to one another “things could be a lot worse, and have been”
I remember an older woman in the terrace, telling me at the time, “you will go to your grave with that child fresh in your mind” and it is so true. Although most of my children are now middle-aged, I still have a baby in my heart.
As I stood at a graveside today, watching a mother and father grieve, I mourned with them for their child, for my child and for every other parents child. Nothing else in life is more unnatural than parents burying children.