My paternal grandmother outlived all her children. My father, his brothers and a sister all died young. Their mother lived to age 99.
Here in Floyd County, we’ve witnessed far too much tragegy when it comes to the death of children. Chance Harman and Joshua Cantrell both died at 4 from the same kind of rare brain cancer. Cancer has also claimed the lives of other children in this small, rural county, leading some to wonder if an environmental condition exists to claim so many so young.
On Monday, I attended yet another funeral for a child who did not outlive her parents. Beth Gatti was 39 when she lost her long battle with kidney disease. Amy and I have known her parents for nearly 30 of those years.
The only real regret I have in life is that so much of it has been spent around death. I’ve written about it and photographed it as a journalist, mourned it with friends and felt its pain when my own loved ones died before their time.
Most parents pour their lives into the upbringing and protection of their children. The void left when those children are ripped from their lives is vast, dark and consuming. It seems far too trite to suggest moving on to those who have lost someone so dear but we must move on. It is never easy and the enormity of it all tests our faith and resolve.
As a writer, words usually come easy. Not this time. Words cannot convey how one feels in such sad times. Words cannot ease the pain of our friends. Words cannot bring back the dead or provide peace.
When a parent is forced to bury a child, some of us is buried with them. I’m sure better words exist to explain such events. Not now. Not soon. Maybe never.