An older couple I knew well lost their only child, a 10-year-old son, when he died in a freak accident at a luxury hotel in New York’s Catskill Mountains, in 1960. They never ever publicly spoke about him again. The two children they subsequently had didn’t even know about their brother, until they stumbled upon a dusty box at home, filled with old photos.
There can be no greater pain for parents than for their child to die before they do, no matter what the circumstances, no matter what the child’s age. The thought alone is terrifying, more terrifying than the thought of being in a plane about to crash, more terrifying than being diagnosed with terminal cancer, more terrifying than anything in the world. Anything.
I often wondered how Rose Kennedy could get out of bed every morning, after losing three sons, even though her faith apparently consoled her. What an unwavering, profound faith that must have been.
I met Linda around 1975, when I worked for her new husband, Mike, an executive at Norelco (you know, the electric shaver company). I vaguely remember her being pregnant at the time. Now, four decades later, the son who was born to Linda and Mike has lost his young life to colon cancer.
I’ve never talked to a woman about the death of her child, but I asked Linda if she’d be willing to do an interview with me for FabOverFifty. I’d seen a number of her Facebook posts about her son, Chris, and I thought she might be up for it. The last thing I wanted to do was inflict more pain on her. Hearing what another mother experienced during such a terrible time in her life might help other women who are going through similar situations, I reasoned.
Linda and I are addicts of Words With Friends, the online Scrabble-like game, so I decided to send her a message with my request during one of our insanely numerous games. She immediately texted back her consent. My interview with Linda, last week, was, in a word, uplifting. One of the statements she made about Chris was the most beautiful thing a mother can say about her child. I won’t tell you what it was here, because I really do want you to read the interview. I promise Linda will inspire you, as well.