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.