When my sister first told me about the documentary she worked on at CNN, “Atlanta Child Murders,” I didn’t know if I would watch it. I remember that grisly time in Atlanta, when so many children were found dead in woods and rivers.
But I was a teenager then, and I was in a self-involved frame of mind. I didn’t consider, like I do now, the horrendous grief of their mothers.
Now I’m the mother of two young men. I worry about them whenever they drive off in a car, which is why I didn’t want to watch the documentary.
But I did watch it. And the mothers’ grief moved me the most. I realized that I’ve been mourning in advance for what might happen to my sons. Better to grieve with the women who lost their children, rather than wallow in the imaginary fate of my boys. It’s a lesson in compassion.
I wrote a poem in memory of the murdered children, a pantoum about worry and grief that starts with a sentence from a Buddhist parable: “The living are few but the dead are many.”
The lesson of the story is that we aren’t alone in our suffering. One mother’s loss is the loss of all mothers.
4 thoughts on “Poems About Motherhood”
Motherhood above all makes you vulnerable. In terms of society, it can also make you a better person, as in “contributor to the common good.” I don’t want to watch that documentary either!
For me the first, hardest, most valuable lesson of parenthood: vulnerability. From the moment my first was born I could be hurt devastatingly, irreparably, and there’s no precaution I could take, no skill I could learn, that could ever make that untrue.
some important work your sister has done. i wish her documentary well. i couldn’t agree more that mothers are one when a loss occurs. it could be any child next time. the grief which connects them is significant. i’m happy you were able to write a poem as tribute to the children and the grief of the mother.
You are so right, Christine. We should all mourn for these sweet children and for their parents. It just puts an ache in my heart that I can’t even describe. Losing my daughter is my biggest fear. But I shouldn’t make up things to worry about. I should always think of the people who really are living the horror.
I would love to read your poem. The first line is powerful and shakes me to the core.
Two of my family members lost a son from a tragic accident. They weren’t old, but their hair turned gray almost overnight. That was ten years ago, and there is still a sadness that hangs in the air. It is there in every holiday, every birthday, every family reunion. Every birth. It is there when the leaves turn colors in October, which is the month when he died.
I can’t imagine the agony of having a child murdered. And I’ll have to admit…I’m usually a bleeding heart, but a man or woman who would murder a child turns me into a raging bull. I could never sit on that jury.
Your sister’s work is very important. Even though it’s hard to watch, I think we should, so we never forget. Thank you for posting this.