by Constance Daley
American Reporter Correspondent
St. Simons Island, Ga.
January 29, 2008
I REMEMBER YOU
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga.. -- It seems to be more often lately that the sentiment is spoken but it's always been out there: "You never get over the death of your child." This is true. But the heartfelt expressions come from some who cannot fathom the notion of losing a child; their own child is who is in their mind, not another mother's child.
They speak with the words gathering in their throat and tears beginning to swell in their eyes. I have lost a 15-year-old son in 1973 to a blind curve where his swerving bicycle and the Volkswagen's screeching brakes could not prevent the accident that took his life almost instantly. I know this woman's fears as she comments on learning our first-born died. She was consoling me but fearing for herself. I understand that now.
I also understand it's not the loss of the child staying with you throughout your life; it's the dread that you will fail to remember. We are not equipped to mourn every moment of our lives; we are strengthened to move on, grow, develop, raise the other children to a life they deserve, give them and your husband your best - knowing all along that you have not been decimated by the loss but fortified to continue with grace.
Beneath the veil of the outward smile is a nagging fear that you have to continue to keep him actively in your memory so you wont forget his last words, his voice, his laugh - down to the sound of his bounding down the stairs before he left that last morning. I'm practiced now and he's firmly with me as naturally as the words and music to a song I haven't heard for 30 or 40 years.
However, there was a time in the seventies when raising the other six children with all the clamoring attendant on getting them up, dressed, off to school, home for the snacks, homework - well "clamor" speaks for itself - the dread of forgetting to remember bordered on panic.
It was around this time I decided the only way I could have uninterrupted time to spend in remembering Jack was to leave the house on Sunday morning at 6:30 a.m. and, instead of going to Mass, I would go to the cemetery and just be there. I did that for many years. It was my private time as well as my secret.
One winter's morning with snow on the grounds and more snow falling with blustery winds driving it off the roadways and into snow-formed mounds, I was sitting in my car next to Jack's tombstone just at the side of the road. I got out and with a windshield-wiper brush, I cleared away snow revealing what we had engraved: His name, years of birth and death and a reminder to any passers by: HE KISSED THE WIND.
The snow was piling up but still not in the flat pattern you'd expect. I got back in the car and relaxed in the quiet reverie. I thought of Jack and went over his life with joy. He had been our only child for three years before the other six came along all in a row. There was more one-on-one with out first born perhaps making it easier to remember.
There was noone anywhere around. I could see the main highway, U.S. 19, usually heavy with traffic but at 7:15 on a Sunday morning, it was gray and silent.
The song, "I Remember You," a Johnny Mercer hit from the 1940s, came on as soon as I turned on the ignition. I sat and listened as the car warmed up and the last lines turned my quiet reverie into my openly sobbing.
When my life is through