Two years since, we said hello, two years since, you had to go,
My world, it turned from bright to gray, my life once here, now swept away,
The clouds kept moving, yet I stayed, time would change, but I’d still feel,
The violent rush of disbelief, then sadness surge, and weigh on me,
But then new life, breathed in my soul, just knowing that your spirit soars,
Each leaf that rustles sings to me, the winds that blow make melodies,
The clouds by day, they dance and float, by night the stars give off their glow,
You speak to my heart constantly, and hug my soul each time I dream.
In two kayaks and a canoe, we paddled down the river quietly, deep in thought about our purpose in coming here. Our destination was a large elm tree up ahead on river right, about a quarter mile from our campsite. It was there, that Dan and Melissa scattered the ashes of their son, who passed away shortly after birth, five months into the pregnancy. Now they, along with Melissa’s daughter Mia, and Luisa and I, paddled towards that tree where we planned to stop and remember little Daniel, as we’ve come to call him.
It’d been two years since we lost him, and as I paddled my kayak, I thought that perhaps, had he lived, he might be on the river with us today, and it suddenly occurred to me that life is not fair. Statistically, less than one percent of babies die after their fifth month in the womb, and so it was only by the slightest of margins that we we robbed of him. Although I wasn’t in a hurry to be a grandfather, the idea had grown on me (after the initial shock wore off) and I was looking forward to getting to know my grandson, playing with him, and of course, once he was old enough, taking him fishing. After all, that’s what grandfathers are supposed to do, isn’t it? It’s certainly what we do, and so as we paddled downriver, my heart was heavy in the knowledge that I would not be taking little Daniel fishing, at least not in this life.
I also thought about Luisa and hoped the remembrance wouldn’t be too hard on her. Little Daniel would have been our first grandson and although losing him was hard on both of us, it crushed her. She would have made a great grandmother and little Daniel would have been one very spoiled child if I know my wife. She’d already started shopping for baby clothes before we’d lost him, and she often told me that she couldn’t wait to babysit him for Dan and Melissa.
We arrived at the spot in front of the elm tree and banked the boats. Then the five of us waded into the river channel, each of us with a single flower in our hands. We formed a circle in the river and said a short prayer; then we released the white mums into the water. The flowers lingered between us for a bit in the slow current, and then it took the mums, one by one down the river.
We stayed at the spot in the river for several minutes, then mounted our boats and paddled over to some large rocks near the tree. Dan lingered back in his kayak, casting his lure into the river channel, retrieving it slowly, deep in thought. I watched him and tried picturing Little Daniel sitting in his lap, the two of them fishing the channel together, and it occurred to me that this is the same stretch of river where Dan and I first fished from kayaks together six years ago.
We eventually paddled back to our campsite, and again, not many words were spoken; I think we were all reflecting–on life and on family and on what might have been. Although the loss was difficult for both Dan and Melissa, I was glad that both of them had found a way to accept what occurred as God’s will. Melissa took to writing poetry, which she found cathartic and uplifting, and she’s thinking about launching a blog to help other grieving parents get through their pain. Dan has been focusing on work and going to school to get his pilot’s license. Of course, they both spend a lot of time outdoors, fishing, camping and even hunting together and that’s helped them as well. I think it’s fair to say I am proud of both of them.
Luisa is still learning to cope with little Daniel’s passing, and every now and then, when she thinks about him, she tears up, still needing time to heal. But I’m of the opinion that a good cry is good for the soul, and with each passing day, I think her pain lessens a little. As for me, I am a Christian, and though not as devout as many, I like to think that I have a pretty good relationship with the Lord. Hopefully someday, when I finally leave this life, I will get to meet my grandson, and when that finally happens, the first thing I’m going to do is to take him fishing.
Lone Star Chronicles – Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Fish