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Not the way it’s supposed to be

Child mortality.

The words are devastating.

White Candle On Black BackgroundAs human beings, we rail against the reality that we will most likely bury our grandparents and our parents and ours aunts and uncles in our lifetimes.

Oh, we understand, intellectually, that it is the natural way of things.

And we hate it, and it hurts.

We are crushed by the reality that many of us will bury members of our own generation. Our spouses. Our brothers and sisters. Our cousins.

We understand, intellectually, that as we age so too does the rest of our age group… and we will pay a price for being mortal.

And we hate that, and it hurts.

But to lose a child…

To lose all the hope and the promise that is born in a family’s heart the moment we first come to realize that a new life is entering our family…

To be old and lose the young…

To have to say goodbye before we even got a chance to say hello…


And all the more so today, in this modern world, where modern medicine and modern technology so often insulates us from this kind of a loss.

Not so for past generations.

My grandparents on both sides knew the pain of losing a child.

My father’s parents Hugo Ernst and Marie (Nuckel) Geissler lost their first-born, a daughter, Marie Emma, when she was only four months old. Born the 10th of September 1919 in Bremen, Germany, she died on the 20th of January 1920 at the Children’s Hospital there.


My mother’s parents Clay Rex and Opal (Robertson) Cottrell also lost their first-born, a daughter, Ruth Marie, when she was only six months old. Born the 12th of August 1917 in Wichita County, Texas, she died at home on the 22nd of February 1918.


And that was not the only child they lost. Donald Harris Cottrell was born on the 5th of March 1930 in Midland, Texas. He was just two years and five months old when he died of smallpox on 12 August 1932.


There is no other word that begins to describe the loss of a child. It is not the way things are supposed to be. We are not supposed to bury our children. Especially not today. Child mortality is a thing of the past, isn’t it?

Would that that were true…

Because it is with the heaviest of hearts that my family gathers today in Chicago to try to come to terms with the loss of a child born too soon.

His name was Adam.

He was beautiful.

And he was loved.

And he is gone.

Even modern medicine and modern technology couldn’t pull him through.


It is not the way things are supposed to be.

We are not supposed to bury our children.


There are no other words.

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