Empty Arms Bereavement

From Breakdown to Bucket Filled

Healing a Heart
By Sara Barry

Last September, I had a breakdown in the school parking lot. It started out as a good day. The sky was blue, sun shining. Preschool drop-off had gone smoothly. I was just saying hi, meeting one of the other moms from the preschool class.

I try not to ask how many kids people have, but something about the way the she phrased her comment “my only daughter” made me wonder if perhaps she had some boys in the upper grades. So I asked.

She smiled and said she had just the one daughter who was in preschool with my daughter.

“And how about you?”

I told her about the big sister next door in kindergarten. I took a breath and said, “And I have a son, who died as a baby.”

And she took a step toward me. With the bright fall sun shining down, she stepped into my shadows.

She asked me his name. Henry. I don’t remember what else she said. I do remember that she didn’t say much. She didn’t hurry to fill the void.

I remember telling my story slowly and in rushes. I remember my face wet with tears.

And I remember how warm her hands were. I remember how firm her touch, how she squeezed just a bit with I faltered in my telling. I remember how she looked me right in the eye and kept my gaze.

My first grader came home this week talking about filling people’s buckets with kindness and smiles and nice words. That day last fall, I was worn out, emptied from the crying and the telling, but I was filled again too by the response. Today I walked into the parking lot, felt the warmth of the sun, and my bucket filled again at the memory of those warm hands, that steady gaze, that quiet listening, and especially by that first step closer.

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