Dead child

These Cotswolds villages are all light brown river stone – the roofs, the walls, the barns, and the beautiful dry stonewalls, the fair fitting of which must be a dying art.  Rooted in the soggy but productive soil that once made them rich with wool, these villages now sport yuppies with foreign cars and Judi Dench types – smart but doubting, conventional but thoughtful, plain but beautiful in not trying to hide.

The Ramsden churchyard is the only place in this tiny village where you can get a phone signal, so there I repair at the end of the pub lunch to check in with my life’s center.

Among the mossy stones are the boys who died in World War I:

Life’s race well run,
Life’s work well done,
Life’s crown well won –
Now peace at last

and a little white marble:

Jesus called a little child
Susan Carole Holifield
Aged 6 years

A tiny flower,
Lent, not given,
To bud on earth
And bloom in Heaven

What a world of pain resides in this short residence of hope in the sure and certain promise of Christian afterlife!  The enduring Church of England – many of its churches near empty on a Sunday despite the soaring spires and patina-ed stained glass – offers that rock-hard assurance.  I think if my child had died that I would fall through any such comfort like an anvil through paper.

My child is one-third of the world away in Santa Fe, and the worst that can be gleaned from these churchyard shouting phone calls is how often she is acting as designated driver for her vodka-soaked boyfriend.

But whoever lost a child of six and retains such faith is either resting with that anvil on the ocean’s floor, or floating in the illusory world of a beneficent God where somehow all things will be made right.  New Englander that I am, I feel we must fight to deserve it, that randomness is part of God’s will, and – Quan will oppose me here – that life is simply not just.

Tell that to the English: the genteel outrage of injustice pervades every newscast, “Will the minister assure the public that …” because each night it is farmers in Shropshire, fishermen in Margate, single mums with inadequate pensions, leaked information from the National Health … Somewhere something unfair is happening to some other worthy social group, and something simply must be done about it.  The Nanny State is failing under Gordon Brown (nicknamed “Dear Prudence”) even as England thrives on gibblety goblets of North Sea oil.

So goodbye, old chum, muddle on without me for a while, and I shall be back to see your dowdy newshares (Fox and CNN have newsbunnies, the BBC has toffee-nosed twittering male newsrabbits and earnest frumpy female newshares) earnestly seeking justice and fairness, the mother of all Parliaments raucously seeking the truth by scoring points, and the hapless but articulate dissidents wittering on about how much damage the next government scheme will cause.

Nowhere else on earth …


One Response to “Dead child”

  1. Hz Says:

    Perhaps there is an inbetween place that a heart can rest. Watching the world through a veil of water whilst wondering if the words you wrote for your child could be the truth. Who knows for there is so much that is unexplicable in this life. Random, sometimes confusing, beautiful and often inspiring.. In reading the words on the resting stones you questioned and wondered into the soul of the writer. Oftentimes the answer is in a very soft hope somewhere between the obvious.

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