After my father’s death when I was 4 years old, the home my family and I lived in was filled with emptiness, sadness and silence. I was attached to a 48 year old mother who was inconsolable. My three older siblings and I were often adrift on an unknown sea of tears. One Saturday evening in the middle of a cold Chicago winter, my mother, siblings and I were walking home from a church function. I remember it was cold, dark, and the sidewalk was icy. My siblings walked together behind me and I was walking alone behind my mother. I was 8 years old. My mother slipped on the ice in front of our home and fell hard on her knees. I ran to her. My siblings were busy laughing about something and did not notice. I was overwhelmed with despair and not sure what to do. My mother crawled into the back seat of our white 1960 Falcon which was parked in our driveway. She laid on her stomach in the back seat and her booted feet dangled out the open car door. I crawled on top of her and sobbed with her – crying over and over Mommy, mommy everything is okay.
I was terrified by her sadness and unable to express my own. We needed our father to hold her, pick her up and whisper softly “it’s okay Jeannie, I am here.” What made me cry was seeing my mother’s distraught-ness and no one was there for her except me. And no one was there for me either.
She was alone in her widow’s sorrow for many years following our Father’s sudden death. I was similarly alone, struggled in school, And wondered when someone would be there for me.
When I lost Roy so suddenly I was flooded with the same sense of loss that I experienced as a child. Unlike my mother, I created a community of guardian angels who helped me carry the pain as I resolved the deep sense of sorrow. They are the ones who comforted me.
When one loses someone, we need to reach out and ask for help. I am where I am today because of friends and others who supported me in the early months. Now it is I who support others.