Last spring I started to wonder if most kids die before their parents. Have you ever carried this worry? Is this rational? Is this something all parents worry about or just the ones who have minds that spin a lot?
No way could I voice it, feeling superstitious about the consequences of welcoming in The Fear by saying it out loud. Every time I’d say it to my husband, he’d be kinda shocked – but then I’d think, well it does happen. And the parents missing their beloved children exist among us, not under or above or below – but among. Here and there and everywhere. Quietly but deafeningly loud. It’s real to them.
I told a friend a couple months ago that it was something I was worried about, kinda always in the back of my mind. I asked her if she worries about losing her kids too, and she said “Yes. And I’ve never told anyone.”
We make a lot of lockets full of joy and happiness, too. Vacations and birthdays and loved ones and the lucky ones who live full lives and pass in old age. Anniversaries and milestones. Vacations and graduations and passive days that simply hold all the beauty in the world.
And we make a lot for bereaved parents, too.
What we work to focus on is more about what is, and less about what is not. Your baby existed. Your baby really did have bones and skin and blood and tears. You really did hold her in your arms. It is real. It is.
I imagine the isolation for bereaved parents is lonely. Horrid. A secondary loss that scrapes the bottom of what life remains left for you in this wake. No one knows what to say. What to do. So they do nothing, thinking instead of saying the wrong thing, I’ll just do nothing. I’m so fucking sorry that we do this. We can be better. You deserve better.
So every day we come to our studio and we read stories of why a photograph is important to you and why you’d love to hold it close. We love you, and humanity, and connections and family and art and jewelry and we’ve found this little corner of the world where all of these things melt together and we make you something beautiful and full of a vibrant life and love and realness. It’s real. It’s real.
We do what we can to walk alongside you for this short bit that our lives overlap. We carry your pain for just the few days we have permission to spend with you, your child, your photograph, making your locket. We don’t turn away, we look closer. Study the lines and the smiles and the eyes and your words. Your child is real, we can see him and feel him and almost so faintly even hear him…
We don’t forget you and your child once we’re done making your locket. We remember and squeeze a piece of you into our own hearts. We continue to carry an ounce of the realness, hopefully lessening the burden by even that much by not looking away.
And herein lies the challenge, the reason people shut off, turn away, cannot stand the thought: We continue to wonder if most children must go before their parents?
We’ve partnered with The Meow Meow Foundation in honor of their daughter, Roxie Belle, who drowned in June 2019 at summer camp in California. Her parents, Doug and Elena, are working hard to close the loopholes in water safety for all kids with their foundation, in the name of their beloved daughter.