The deepest abyss of pain and grief the human spirit can endure is the death of your child.
– Anonymous comment, Daily Mail website
Matthew Badger passed away last week. At first, when I read the news, I didn’t remember who he was and wondered why his passing was notable enough to appear in major news outlets. Then I read down a few lines and instantly I recalled the story.
Matthew Badger’s three daughters perished on Christmas Day 2011 at their mother’s house when a bag of fireplace embers was carelessly tossed away and the girls were unable to escape the raging fire that ensued.
The story was and still is horrific to such a degree that most of us can hardly bear to even think about it. Matthew lived the horror every day, every night, every minute. For five years and one month, he lived with the unfathomable loss of all three of his children. And then, his body decided that it had had enough.
I did not know Matthew Badger, but I share something with him. That something is a broken heart. I share with him the life sentence of the type of loss that, in his words, ended his life. The loss that he didn’t think was ever going away.
Four years after the death of my son Kai, four years into my own life sentence, I can vouch for the truth of his words. This loss, it never goes away.
Oh sure, I have gone on with my life. I moved – three times. I sold or donated many of the items that filled my previous life, from a car and two motorcycles to almost all of my furniture and a lot of clothing, in search of a simpler life that would hopefully allow me to sort through the ashes of my life and find some peace. I have read books on grief, resilience, faith and stoicism. I’ve been present with the pain and I have tried to outrun it. I have cried it out and at times washed it away with too much wine. I put Kai’s pictures away and then brought them back out. When I visit his grave, sometimes I weep with despair and at other times sit in a fog of disbelief. When I had to put our dog Buster to sleep in September, I felt crushed by the injustice of another loss and the realization that an important link to Kai was gone. I have locked many memories deep inside my heart. I am no longer as quick to talk about my loss as I once was.
But it is always there, the sorrow, and my broken heart beats on with the pain and grief of the tremendous loss of my little Kai. It also beats on with something else that goes deeper than the grief ever could. My heart beats with a love that grows bigger every day and that will never, ever go away.