The Core of Human Suffering

I wrote an essay a few days ago, A Sparkle in the Darkness. It is my favorite kind of essay to write, one that strikes to the very core of human suffering, and I have known a lot of it. I do not carry it around with me; I do not discuss my life with people. It is only as a writer that I trot it out and reveal what it is like living with deep loss.

You see, I remember the very clothes my little girl had in her drawer that summer she died right after turning seven. The blue shorts with the appliqued red apple on the white cotton top. The shorts showed the long railroad -like scar she bore on her right thigh. It always hurt her when she was engaged in an activity, but it never stopped her. She took ballet at the community center and the scar was covered by pink legatards.

She loved her father the most, I think. There is a photo of her as he sits on our green naugahyde couch and combs his hair. She looked and acted like him rather than me. She was tall and slender with light brown hair. Everyone adored her and when she died, they stopped coming around. They couldn’t bear the pain.

I never entertained the thought of not trying the best I could to bear the burden of such a loss. I am strong at the root, thank God. But desperately weak in other ways. Especially socially. I cannot bear to be with people that are determined to “not see me.” That is what happens to bereaved mothers. They are invisible. So maybe I write to keep myself sane. I know what I have endured and I know how strong and how weak I am. Sometimes those two fronts come together and a brilliant storm is produced.

There must be compensations for losing the two of them, the husband and daughter. I seldom speak of my son when I write, in order to protect his privacy. He has endured in different ways than I have. He was the forgotten one, the “normal one.” As an adult he is quiet and reserved, as am I. We laugh together but I don’t cry around him very often. When I do, he just allows it to happen, knowing I am better off for it.

I reach out to you with these words, not to heal you or to help you but to affirm the fact that we need each other in mysterious ways. Maybe this helps you, I don’t know. It helps me, always. For one brief moment in my life, there was Camelot, but today is okay. I live a peaceful life with minimum needs. I am rested and free to do as I like. Hallelujah.

Vicki Woodyard

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