For a parent, the loss of one's child is unimaginable, and yet a constant, nagging fear, something you live with by ignoring it the way you ignore your refrigerator's hum. When a friend loses a child, all that noise awakens into magnified presence, yet one is left speechless, astonied, as they used to say--an archaism, but one that fits the mouth better than any other word I can think of at the moment. When the child has taken his or her own life, the speechlessness itself magnifies. What can one possibly say? What question can one possibly ask that would find a satisfactory or consoling answer? Explanation palls. Reason fails.
What I can do is love my own children, Elizabeth and Ian, and be grateful that I can still tell them so.
What I can do is remember Margaret Ann blossoming into her mother's living room briefly, smiling, politely helloing and furtively darting into her bedroom to escape the tiresome adults, as teens do. Beautiful, beautiful smile. . . .