Edgar’s Pain in Losing a Child
Life after losing a child is hard but keeping memories is the key to dealing with it
Losing a child is among the most unimaginable things to a parent. Some are blessed enough not to encounter this in their lifetime. However, Edgar was one of the unfortunate ones to outlive a daughter—Martha.
Newly married and at the peak of her 20s, Martha’s whole life was ahead of her. However, in 1974, the discovery of a malignant melanoma in her upper right thigh sealed her faith of months of suffering. She had to go through eighteen months of operations and chemotherapy.
Edgar and I married sometime in those eighteen months. Hence, I was fortunate to be acquainted with Martha and get to know her more. Even though Martha wasn’t my blood, her passing still made me feel the grief of losing a child. I could only imagine Edgar’s pain when we lost her.
One could gather from Edgar’s stories that he was very fond of Martha. I’m sure that like every parent, Edgar loved all his kids equally. However, he and Martha had a special bond. One evidence to this is when Edgar talked about the kids in their youth.
He would recall how Martha—despite the rise of the dissident generation at the time—worked with him and Marjorie to blend with traditional values. When Martha became interested in a boy named Mike during high school, she let her parents know. When they reached the dating phase, Martha and Mike were respectful of Edgar’s conditions and always followed the rules. Edgar would look back and say how he never saw Martha unhappy. She had a sunny disposition and was someone you could easily talk to. Even on her wedding day, Martha wanted to do everything right and made sure she and her husband-to-be, Charley, had Edgar’s blessing.
It was particularly hard for Edgar to learn how to deal with losing a child because he had to be there for Martha in the months before her passing. Still, despite the pain of seeing his daughter suffer, Edgar considered the summer of 1975 as the greatest gifts of his life. It was during that time that they bonded more. That summer was one that stayed with Edgar’s memories. In his own words:
The summer I stayed with Martha was one of the greatest gifts of my life. One thing I was careful of was to not patronize Martha and yet encourage as much independence as possible. She had lost most of her hair due to the chemotherapy and there was limited use of her left side, arm, and leg. Mobility was hampered by limited control of the left leg. I was just there as needed even though the urge to assist her was certainly strong. The memory of those days is so vivid but I think most of all her courage and strength sprinkled with her sense of humor was a monumental tribute to her and her family heritage. Few people are blessed with a summer to remember like the one Martha and I shared.
Life after losing a child is never easy, and the pain will never go away. However, Edgar learned to cope by keeping Martha’s memory strong so she lives on despite her being no longer physically present in this world. When Martha passed on, Edgar and I established a scholarship in her honor at the Missouri Southern College, with emphasis on the arts.
If Edgar’s story of losing a child resonated with you, feel free to share your thoughts. There’s more to Edgar’s adventures and life in Of Raincrows and Ivy Leaves. Connect with me on Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter if you want to discuss your thoughts on this.