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Meditations for Bereaved Parents
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Meditations for the Widowed
Meditations for the Terminally Ill and Their Families
Meditations for Alcoholics and Their Families
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WHEN THE CYGNETS DIED

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?  Though she may forget, I will not forget you!”
       — Isaiah 49:15 (NIV
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I knew a long time ahead that I was going to have to live without Joey, and I knew what my strength would be - living with God. God himself would hold me close and wipe away my tears. He would be "near to comfort and cheer" just when I needed Him most.

And then Joey died, and God died, too.  For month after month after month He failed to touch the events in my life, without or within. Nor did the stories of God's special moments in the lives of other parents who had lost children help, for I had lost not only my son but my Father as well.

And then one day I read a story about a man and woman on the shores of Long Island Sound who befriended two symphonically beautiful swans, cautiously and joyously nourishing the friendship until the wild creatures would respond to their call, come up on their lawn and eat bread from their hands. The couple's awareness of the swans grew through the changing seasons, especially through the mating season and the appearance of the young cygnets.

The second year only strengthened the relationship until, upon the birth of the new swanlets, great black gulls swooped into the inlet and one by one seized and killed the pitifully screaming babes. Now the mother and father refused to answer the call of their friends, preferring to swim up the river again and again to the bridge where the last baby had been taken, or spending their days building a new nest, a nest that would never be filled. On occasion when they did wander up on their friends' lawn, they were too bewildered, too pre-occupied, to eat the bread held out to them.

The couple on the shore cursed nature, plotted revenge on the black gulls, shouted their love to the swans, bore the pain of the swan's inability to accept their love, and waited for another year. Never were their friends more present to their swans than when to the swans they appeared more absent.

And so, without inner signal or outer sign, I affirmed God's shouts of love to me, and in my deafest hour found the beginnings of comfort. And I, too, waited for another year.

Dear Father-Mother God, help me always to know that as much as I loved the child I lost, so much do you love me, and unimaginably more.

Meg Woodson
Mother of Joseph