Your Mr. Cope has been thinking much about sorrow for several days now. I use that word—sorrow—in purposeful contrast to “sadness,” “melancholy,” “depression,” for a specific cause. Sorrow, though it might include those and many other components (and almost always does), is reserved in my mind for one and only one event. Someone has died. Someone is lost.
I am not filled with sadness or depression over little Mason’s loss. I’d only met him once, when my daughter brought him here, less than one-year old, to baby sit. I understand that by eighteen months (last week), he was a seething package of joy and giggles and effervescent personality. But I was not meaningfully connected to him or his parents, and therefore cannot be immersed in that bleakness that must now envelope his family and their circle of friends.
My daughter is in that circle, deeply enough to have been there from Mason’s first days to his last. She was there that night, searching through the fields with so many others. Family, friends, neighbors, strangers … calling his name into the dark, hoping they might find him hiding, playing at some toddler’s game. Praying he’d fallen asleep in the corn … praying for that miracle to occur, just this once, that so seldom occurs—all the while knowing, even as desperately as they tried to push the thought away, that he was in the water.
I know from my own losses that, given time, sadness fades, depression lightens, melancholy burns away like a fog under the glare of life as it continues to unfold. But sorrow stays. Sorrow remains behind, never growing weaker, just as one’s love for those who’ve died never grows weaker. Sorrow is the image in our heart of those we will never see again. I wouldn’t want to do without it.
Yet I’ve never lost anyone whose time had not come. I’ve lost only those who had filled their lives to completion, and who had left enough memories behind to share throughout our lives. Mason didn’t have time for that. The greatest sorrow in little Mason’s memory is that he was able to leave so few memories. I could hear it in my girl’s voice when she told her story of that night. She was picturing all the things he will never do, all the experiences he will never have, all the incarnations he will never be. Even as funny “Auntie Annie,” peripheral to the family, her pain is so intense, it staggers my mind to think what the mom and dad are going through.
For those who believe in the power of prayer to heal, do give them yours this day. Not being of that belief, all I have to give is my sorrow—to lay it like a flower, along with all the other flowers from all the other mourners, at the foot of his short, short life. All I can do is add my sorrow to the totality of sorrow, especially from those who loved the lad and can’t bear, yet, to let him go. Such a feeble gesture, this, but someday, perhaps, they will be grateful to know how many others their darling Mason was able to touch, and how many others were moved to sorrow by his loss.