Merging mental images & life cycles

Humming to the baby snuggled beside me yesterday, my arm wrapped around him as his breathing became more and more steady, I remembered another child I used to cradle to sleep. Rachel was 6 and she didn't fall asleep easily. Therefore when she was in my care, I always, always read her to sleep... and also hummed when necessary.

Rachel's daddy died the night before last. Hearing that yesterday morning, although he was referred to as "Paul" and not "Rachel's Daddy," or "Allison and Rachel's Daddy," my heart gave a flip of the most excruciating kind. 50 year old men are not supposed to die of infections when they've seemed to be regaining a foothold on their struggle with Leukemia. More firmly than that, however, I believe that now-16 year old girls' daddies aren't supposed to die. Nor are 22 year old's, which is about the age I believe Rachel's sister, Allison, is right now.

Worse still, their mother, Karen, passed away several years ago, before their father. Children are supposed to keep their parents so they can forge through childhood into adulthood in safety, with balance and love and the solid awareness that they're going to be okay. I can't get this thought out of my head. Particularly when there's a new child to love in my own family, reminding me constantly of how important it is to love well.

Meanwhile, I'm reading Anderson Cooper's book, Dispatches from the Edge: A Memoir of War, Disasters, and Survival, and have learned that his father died when he was 10. And so he goes where the suffering is in this inexplicable need to connect with the pain of others to help deal with his own. Something about the images I'm seeing through his words, the example of what that kind of loss might do to a child, the memories in my mind of the girls I used to laugh with, and read to sleep, and this new baby's trust and glorious, intuitive knowing that he is very, very loved...these emotions and images and sensations are getting all mixed up in my head. In my soul.

And so I continue to read my book, hold that baby a little tighter, consider the words I might say if I decide to send condolence cards to two young women I used to know quite well, but whom I've lost touch with over the years. What in the world would I say? What could I say? Anything at all is never going to be enough...