Friday, June 3, 2011

A Lament for Lost Children

©2010 Johnny Domawa
All Rights Reserved

One could have been a doctor someday. Maybe he would get to save your daughter or son. Your mother perhaps, maybe even yourself. He will not have the chance to do so anymore. Another might have been a carpenter. He could have built you your bed or your house. Still, another would have been a policeman who could have saved someone. Or an accountant, or a machinist, or a farmer; the possibilities are endless. But they wouldn’t be able to do so now. Their lives were nipped at the bud before they could truly bloom.

Children hold many promises. A parent often looks at a child as the continuation of his/her dreams. We have failed often in our lives that we reach a point where we surrender to life’s troubles and end up pinning our shattered dreams to our children. They are our hope, the fresh clay upon which we can impose our will and form the basis of our existence. That’s why our tears are more and our wails are louder when they pass away. We lose part of our dreams when they go, a great part of ourselves dies with them.

They hold in their innocent hands so many things. They could be anything. A bad and naughty child would change someday to become a responsible adult. A frail child would emerge stronger and beat the odds. A gifted child can bloom. A carefree one can find his roots and flourish. A daughter might even get married to a rich family (LOL). Or go abroad and earn dollars for the family (LOL). They become our beacons in the harsh realities of this life. They nurture us. They give purpose to our hands as we toil away in our daily labors. For them, we can turn our backs to the vagaries of our youth. We can let our bodies age, our bellies bloat, our skin to get chapped, our bodies to waste for them. We become matrons and live our girly and boyish sides to the past. If the husband still clings to his youthful ardor and flirts around, we have the strength to weather it and neglect even ourselves for our children. That is how strong they tug at us.

Of course, one may become a drunkard someday. Or he’d bring home a tramp of a wife. Those are also possibilities. It doesn’t diminish the hope we hold for them. For us who’ve lost a lot, they are the foundations upon which we build our dreams again.

That is why to lose them at such young ages is unimaginable. If we could die in their stead, we’d probably jump at the chance.

The sad truth remains. They’ve gone away. If they are angels now, or sleeping in deep slumber, there is little solace to be found there. We’d rather have them back. Are they happy? Have they eaten? The questions hound our dreams. We wrestle with our fears and our hopes. It would take eternity to remove the emptiness they leave behind.

We should give thanks for the time they’ve given us. The diaper changes, their cries as young babes, their soft cooing sounds as we sun them to sleep. Their first words and sentences; their first day of school; their first spanking and so many other firsts should comfort us now. We should remember them as they lugged their first load going to the farm, their plaintive pleas to go home as dead tired young bodies squirm in the uma(farm). Remember their first forays to rites of boyhood: climbing Lolo’s guava tree and running away when caught, or digging for sweet potatoes (nen kik-i as ubi) and roasting them over hot coals. These are what they leave us behind with: memories that should warm our hearts.

We may dream of what they might have become but we focus more on what they have been. We look back at the simple moments we have shared and rejoice that we have been touched thus. One of the greatest gifts another soul can give is to remember the moments shared with those who’ve moved on and keep them dearly in our hearts.

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