Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Small Ghosts

Small ghosts trail behind so many families, invisible to the naked eye or the quick hello.

Rena bustles around her son's birthday party, passing food and welcoming guests. During a lull, we chat. 'Did you ever think of having a second child?' I ask. 'Oh, we did,' she says, 'but he died. He was eight weeks old. He got an infection, it entered his heart, and he died.' I place my hand on her shoulder; there are no words.


You can read more of this All Souls Day reflection published in Eureka Street here.


  1. This made me cry so much. Perhaps because my husband and I are unable to have any children (biological or adopted) and likely never will, the idea of having one and then losing him or her always moves me hugely. The pain of my childlessness is sometimes very hard to bear, but that pain always seems so very much worse.

    Some friends of mine marked the ninth birthday of their second child the other week by laying flowers on her grave. God has granted them 4 more children since, but that's made no difference to that loss, despite the joy their five living children all bring. On that anniversary her dad talked about the pain of having to give permission to the doctors to turn off little Anjuli's ventilator. She was just a few weeks old and the time had already come to give up the hopes they'd had for her, their first living child after maybe 4 or 5 difficult pregnancies that had all ended in miscarriages, and to accept that maybe God had other plans. And yet I marvelled, looking at the photos of their family gathered around Anjuli's grave. I would never have thought, during those hard years filled with dead babies, that one day they'd be standing there smiling, with no fewer than *five* healthy children. Anjuli is still very much a part of their family, but it is such a joy that the hard season that she was a part of has finally passed.

  2. Dear Heather, Thank you for sharing two such personal stories. Not having children - now that would be so difficult. I am so sorry to hear. But I loved the story of Anjuli, and a family still willing to remember and commemorate her. So beautiful, and so healthy. Their lives will be all the richer for it. alison.


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