My grandmother lost three children. They were all adults when they passed. "You're not supposed to bury your child," she said.
We lost my sister when she was 19. She was in an car accident. Her boyfriend had been drinking. He was goofing around racing against a friend on a narrow, winding road. And he had travelled this road many times, they were only about a mile away from home.
As we sat in the surgery waiting room, hoping and praying for my sister to live, my mother changed. The doctors had offered little hope when they talked to us in the ER. Mama just sat there, staring off. My brothers and I sat together. I don't know how to explain it, but we knew. My brothers were only 17 and 15.
The rest of the time is blurry images. As my sister remained on life support, a SC requirement before officially pronouncing her brain dead, my father did not want to leave her side. My parents had been through a horrible divorce. They could not be in the same room together, mostly because my mother swore she would never forgive my dad. A chaplain asked if she could do something. I told her about my parents and how my mom needed some time alone with my sister. The chaplain went in and got my dad to come out — she needed him to answer questions or something. Mom went in.
I could not go in. I had already seen how much she loved us. I was overwhelmed and I thought of my own son, not even 2 yet. And I was so afraid of losing him. It was something I had never considered before.
My Mom was never the same again. She was sad for a long time. She cried so much. She looked at pictures often. I once caught her standing in the rain, alone. In a poetry workshop last year, I thought of that moment. This is what came from it.
By Connie Thompson Kuhn