How many children do you have?
As a mother I hear this question wherever I go.
I am the mother of five.
But is my answer always five, is it that simple?
For a bereaved parent this is never a simple question.
I sometimes answer four.
If I answer four it might mean that I am not in the mood;
in the mood to let you deep into my life,
in the mood to feel a sting of sadness,
in the mood to make you uncomfortable.
I might answer five and just leave it at that,
but often another question follows:
how old are they?
Which only leads to more awkward answers and questions..
If I answer the truth it can make the conversation uncomfortable.
If I answer four I am often left with guilt,
guilt for not aknowledging my own daughter..
But I am learning that either answer is okay,
that God will lead and guide my heart and my response.
The majority of the time I answer with "four and one in heaven".
I often find that when I do,
the person I am faced with is another bereaved parent,
or someone that needed to hear about Kathleen's brief life,
that God can bring you through the darkest struggles,
that He is our healer, our comforter, our strength.
It may bring a sting of sadness,
but like the lament psalms they end with
hope and comfort and encouragement.
Perhaps the times I don't respond this way,
I am really robbing the other person of an opportunity to be
touched, healed, comforted, encouraged, inspired
like so many have been by Kathleen and by my story.
It is a simple question, but not a simple answer..
If you want to know that answer that lies deep in my heart,
it would be very controversial.
My answer would be NONE.
I have no children, they are not mine, they belong to God.
I am their caretaker for however long God allows it.
Be it two hours or a life time.
It may seem like a simple question, but it is not,
and neither is the answer.