Because I lost you

I see the child, backlit by this extraordinary light, and because I lost you I know the kind of pain

Can come with a picture when the child is gone

I will always

Love you, child

No matter how Minotaur you make me

In this labyrinth

I have learned to

call home

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The Parable of the Lost

I call her name

Stalk the neighborhood

Take the dog

Print out sepia copies of

Her sleeping, staring pensively at the lens

Reminding of me the others

All gone missing

You look at wonder every day

For love or pay

I look for love

Every day

See the missing

You.

Veronica

When I lost Veronica–as I was losing Veronica, I decided I had to leave a trail of words so she could find me. This was back before the bloom of social media, so the trail of words was newspaper and legal-document based with a book of some sort when she grew up.

If anyone asked me, I would say that loving Veronica and having to figure out how to survive without her was the single most defining tragedy of my life. Defining in that it changed me. Defining in that it may have made me a better person.

The days and the hours right after I lost you were hell–actual hell. I wanted to die it hurt so much. I missed you, but worse than that I knew you missed me. I hated not being able to tell you why I was not there–that it had not at all been my choice to let you go.

This forced me to pray in a way I had never prayed before. I prayed for people to stroke your hair and people to sing you lullabies. I prayed for people to do things to love you, because I could not.

And in the process I realized that this kind of prayer was a form of metaphysical bargaining–God send someone to love Veronica led to God saying who will you love in return?

I loved youth group kids for you

I loved refugees for you

I loved drug addicts and the mentally ill for you

The snooty

The cowardly

And the messy

For you

I loved strangers for you

I loved pilgrims for you.

And the people who worked the drive through….for years they all were you–my lost baby in the world.

Because for the last 20 years all I have seen around me are would-be Veronicas.

Because that is how God sees me. He sees me through Jesus, His beloved lost Son.

So when you are afraid to call, when I have no address to send birthday gifts or plane tickets I marvel at what you don’t know about the treasure of love I have for you,

my baby girl.

Ghost Child

To be clear you are all grown up now and living somewhere as I try yet again to excise what you have done to us all from pictures of beautiful children.

You were

You are a dangerous male child

But what you will be

Is mountains told to throw themselves

Into the Sea.

Mark 11:22-23 NIV

[22] “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. [23] “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.

Apophenia

I pull the elephant ears out of the water, one and then a handful and then none for awhile, risking dead fish and live snakes to find you. At dinner the little boy asks what miscarriage is and my answer is accurate but brief because why tell a little boy about lost siblings and the trees grown in their place or the way that forgetting is not better than carrying this

This memory of you dark, indelible angel, in the midst of all I hold dear.

Funny How Things

The ghost of the girl turns to the ghost of the boy and says something inaudible about grief, the way it can turn up unannounced reminding any real person of the placeholder tree, all previous attempts at triage, some of the missing, the velocity of loss…the age the child would have been