The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud, by Ben Sherwood, is one of the books I read this summer.
The book description says: "... tells the haunting story of a young man who narrowly survives a terrible car wreck that kills his little brother. Years later, the brothers' bond remains so strong that it transcends the normal boundaries separating life and death... By day he (Charlie) tends the lawns and monuments of the ancient cemetery where his younger brother, Sam, is buried. Graced with an extraordinary gift after surviving the accident, he can still see, talk, and even play catch with Sam's spirit...
"... Luminous, soulful, and filled with unforgettable characters, The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud is one of those rare, wise books that reveal the mysteries of the unseen world around us, gently transforming the worst pain of loss into hope, healing, and even laughter. Suspenseful and deeply moving, its startling climax reminds un that sometimes tragedies can bring about miracles if we simply open our hearts."
As many of you might remember, I have had the honor of working with bereaved parents for a little more than 11 years through volunteering at The MISS Foundation.
"Death and Life", that is how parental bereavement feels like. We die when our child dies and we, then, learn to live a new life that is robbed of present and future, a new life that is filled with pain and sorrow, a new life that has many, many lessons and gifts to offer, as we open our hearts and souls and minds to listen, to find healing and peace and happiness again.
I've heard how many are afraid of forgetting their precious children. How people tell them that they should "let go", so their babies are able to "rest in peace". How they wished they could see, talk, hug and kiss their beautiful children one more time.
I have leaned from my own personal experience and from the wisdom shared by many that walk their own grief journey along with me, that parenting a dead child is possible.
We are able to transcend the physical realm to parent our dead child. How?
It is not easy, as we live and communicate through our bodies. The first urge a new mom has is to hug and cuddle her precious newborn. We, as bereaved parents, are not able to do so; but we can still hug them and kiss them in our hearts.
How I wish I had the power to give each and every bereaved parent a gift like Charlie's? How I wish they could find the way to talk and play and hug and kiss their precious little ones? Sadly, I can't.
The only power I have is the one my choices give me:
I chose to be present and willingly walk the grief journey of those that allow me to walk with them.
To lend a hand.
To know those precious children through the loving eyes of their courageous parents.
To do my best in the time I have on earth, to be worthy of finally hug and kiss and love my children to eternity.