Let me tell you what just happened to a lady I know.
A lovely lady, from a very close-knit family. Her daughter, and indeed everybody in the family, had been excitedly waiting to have her very first baby. This would make my friend a grandmother, something she felt made her ‘old’, but yet she was thrilled about. Her daughter went into a fairly good labour and eventually delivered a perfect baby girl. Yep, my friend now had a granddaughter, and she felt so happy. Not least because there’s always a niggle at the back of your mind that, even with today’s medical advances, something will go wrong. Nothing went wrong, mother and baby are doing extremely well.
However, just two hours after the birth, my friend got a distressing phone call to tell her about her own father, the great-grandfather of the newborn baby. He had just unexpectedly died.
How awful. A day full of extreme happiness and excitement, to be turned into completely painful horrific feeling of distress and devastation.
I can’t even begin to imagine the feelings going through my friend’s mind. I was left unable to find any real words to say.
Perhaps, the most awful legacy of this tragedy is that the new life, the new baby girl, will always forever celebrate her birthday on the same date that the great-grandfather she will never know, passed away. Her mother’s grandfather, my friend’s father.
Next year, when she is celebrating her first birthday, the family will also be remembering and marking the passing of my friend’s father. An extremely difficult and bitter-sweet day.
As the years go on, the pain will subside, as it always eventually does, but forever that poor child’s birthday will also unkindly mark the death. It will never be exclusively her special day.
Maybe after there’s been a lot of healing, it could eventually be a day of double celebration. Celebrating another year in the life of the child, or young woman, or middle aged lady, or old lady, as her life progresses into the future, and also celebrating the life and achievements of the deceased.
Heck, that’s all a way off.
For now, all there is is pain, hurt, sadness and confusion.