29 September 2008
Where can a person put four days of grieving with bereaved families? Where can a person put the grief for a child killed in a car accident, shot in the desert, dying in the arms of his mother, left in a car, born dead from his mother's body? There are far too many to name, far too many for anyone here to have to read.
But what I can tell you is this--
When you sit in a room full of 200 bereaved parents, there is an energy, there is alot of pain, and there is also the possibility for so much growth, so much transformation, so much awe, that I sit here thinking about my return, thinking about my homecoming and I am amazed at the resiliency, the love and the power of grief. And I know that there are families today who are aching for the MISS conference, aching for their child, aching for the understanding that is inherent in a conference like this. And I can tell these same families that I know what this is like, I know what can happen in a conference like this and how, with time, there really will come a new kind of energy, a new sense of purpose, and sometimes that purpose is as simple as getting out of bed, pouring a bowl of cereal for a living child, walking out the door to collect the mail.
Sometimes it is enough to know that someone else across the country, in another city, is sitting and thinking of you, thinking of your child, saying a prayer, sending a wish for a moment of breathing, one single smile in a day, a humingbird finding some nectar.
And never forget that all of this began, this energy, this work, this conference because 14 years ago, a small child, living in her mother's belly stopped breathing, and as she took that last breath, she created a kind of ripple effect unknown at the time to her mother, unknown to her family, unknown to the world. But with her last breath came a lasting breath, a breath that each of us feels as we return each year to Phoenix to share our stories, to share our hearts. A warm breath that becomes larger than any of us can imagine, most of all, I'm sure, her mother.
And with Cheyenne's last breath, she created new life in more ways than anyone could ever quantify or understand because really, there is no understanding in a child's death, no understanding.
But let me say to everyone who can listen, I understand. I understand that your child is your world and your life and your love.
I am here.