A cousin recently lost the youngest of her two sons in a tragic water sport accident. He was only nineteen years old. We grieved and prayed and did what we could.

Every mother that hears this kind of story feels her heart plummet to her lower abdomen – way below the stomach. How could she survive such a loss?

But ultimately, we all moved on and began to sleep soundly again.

Today, I took another blow to my gut when I received the ‘thank you’ note card. It was the signature at the bottom of a very thoughtful personal tribute to the young man, with only three names scribbled at the end. This was probably the first time they had ever signed a card without his name bookending their family.

Every birthday, invitation, Christmas card, had always included his dad, his mom, his brother and then his own name as the last word.

It was blindingly painful to think of the great sorrow embedded in the simple act of the absence of his name in the family grouping.

He is absent from home, from school, from joking and teasing and smiling and from his beloved water sports.

I’m sure there are many such moments in her life as well as her husband’s and older son’s. It feels like a great vortex of grief and a hurdle larger than one can – or would ever wish to – understand.

There was a deep sense of loss that hovered over my home when my son just left for college. He was home sick and I cried a lot more than I could have imagined, even though I knew it was good for him.

What could I do?

I did the only thing I could think of. I lay in bed at night and envisioned him surrounded by light and love and peace – a sort of meditation. It calmed me and must have him, even though he had no idea that I was doing it. But he told me later that he slept surprisingly well every night.

So I am thinking that I can do this for our cousin. I know she’ll have so many fitful days of sorrow that I can do nothing about. But perhaps I can send her light and love and peace so that she can remain strong enough to make it through one more long night.

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