As I talked to the parents after the funeral I wanted to say so many things to them, but in the end all I said was "there are no words". Because I know that there are no words that can help you through the devastating reality of losing a child.
I would have liked to have said to the parents that time really does heal even though, when it was said to me I wanted to scream at that person "how much bloody time"! But most of all I would have liked to tell them about the little blue heart.
Sometime after we lost our eldest son I was lying in bed trying to talk myself into getting up. It was one of my lowest points. I just couldn't find a reason to get out of bed and go through another day filled with sadness and grief. I found myself staring at a hat stand in the corner of the room. It had been standing in the same place for almost twenty years. It was covered in hats and belts and handbags and anything else that I could fit on that stand. But something caught my eye. It was something twinkling at me. It was blue. I slowly rose from the bed and walked over to the hat stand, and there it was. It was a blue satin heart with the words "I LOVE U MUM" stamped on it. I burst into tears. My son had given me that little blue heart when he was about six years old. He had bought it at the school fete and when he gave it to me my heart almost burst with love. I had hung that little blue heart in the hat stand and it winked at me all the time, but fifteen years later, that little heart had been buried under hats, belts etc etc.
Of course the question "How did it suddenly shift to the front of everything on that stand" came to my mind. But I knew instantly. It was a message from my son. He was telling me that he loved me and that even though he was not physically here he was most certainly spiritually. I think it was about this time that I started to heal.
This extract of a sermon by Henry Scott-Holland (Canon St Paul's Cathedral 1847-1918) was sent to us via fax shortly after we lost our son. I put it aside for a long time but now I read it quite often. It is beautiful and comforting and something I will send to the parents when I think the time is right.
"Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner. All is well. Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before. How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!"