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I am at a loss today.  It has been six months today that my 14 year old goddaughter was taken from us by cancer.  To say that I have been distracted would be a gross understatement.  My body has been running ragged, it seemed to be aware of this milestone before I was.  There is a reason we Catholics mark months one and six; and then every year after a person dies.  It is like the codification of what the body and spirit intuitively know.

We have lost so much with this child’s death.  Our family has lost a a spirit of light.  The world has lost that dynamic young spirit and lost the possibility that beat inside her lion’s heart.  My daughter has lost her innocence – she knows death now, and that our time is finite.  My husband and I have lost the sense that we can protect our children from all the world’s dangers, we know now that there are things well beyond our control.

A friend who suffered the violent and sudden loss of her husband shared this Washington Post article: After Newton shooting, parents enter into the lonely quiet.  It is a well-written and accurate depiction of grief.  Newtown happened just four days after my goddaughter’s death.  I remember scrolling through my Facebook feed and trying to understand what was unfolding in Connecticut.  I glanced at a news report and promptly shut down my phone.  I could not take in a national tragedy when faced with my own very personal one.

I am thinking of those parents today.  Their children are the same age as my eldest.  I wonder how they are putting one foot in front of the other this week.  I remember wanting to crawl into the earth and wishing it would swallow me up.  I remember the agony of maintaining my children’s routines.  To be a godparent, a comadre, is to willingly accept responsibility for a child.  She was not mine, but she was so much a part of my world.  I hovered over her from the time she was born and celebrated her achievements and milestones. I helped clean her body when the end had come.  And today, for a while, my family and I will join the Newton parents in that lonely quiet with prayers for us all.


About The Author

Heidi Hernandez Gatty is the Principal at Small Brown Girl Consulting where her practice focuses on issues of Art & Social Justice, Economic Justice, and Democratic Participation. Through her practice, she helps individuals and communities manifest their visions into tangible realities.

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