Sleep well, little Sorcha

A long drive to Tipperary today. A funeral. My friend and her partner walking down the aisle, carrying a small white coffin. Their fifteen day old daughter, Sorcha. They wrote some beautiful, hope-filled words for the priest to speak on their behalf, words that wrapped little Sorcha’s spirit in feather-light love as it lifted away into the embrace of light above.

It’s hard to find the hope in all this. Not for beautiful little Sorcha, who left this world as unblemished as any soul could ever hope to, but for the rest of us. As her parents carried her insufferably tiny little coffin down the aisle, all I could see was the empty little trestle left behind. All I could see was the place where she used to be.

The slow shuffle of feet to the exit. The open doors made a hole of sky in the darkness at the back of the church. And maybe I heard her laughing gurgle as she led us out. I hope I did. I know I swore at God on the long drive back to Dublin. I know that.

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16 comments on “Sleep well, little Sorcha

  1. Elbog says:

    Went to a funeral, yesterday, myself. I think we can sense the plastic nature of time in these moments, fifteen days or 57 years, it hurts no less, means no more. Words leave us, pale shadows of what’s in our hearts. The greatest of all these is Love, and to say that Love bears all things does not mean always that we carry them happily. Carry them, though, we do.

  2. Words don’t really convey the complexity of emotion with this. I work in a place where babies sometimes die; most of the time it can be seen as a release, but not always. The separation of death is something which I know I dread, even though my faith tells me they’ve gone to a better place, and that I will someday join them. There is no consolation for missing someone with your entire being.

    On a similar note, there is something just wrong about a parent burying a child; I would honestly be yelling at God too. There have been times when I fear for my children, fear losing them.

    This poem was a gentle reminder for maybe keeping things in perspective:

    God’s Loan

    “I’ll loan you for a little time
    a child of mine,” He said,
    “For you to love the while he lives,
    and mourn for when he’s dead,

    It may be six or seven years,
    or twenty-six or seven,
    But will you, till I call him back,
    take care of him for Me?

    He’ll bring his charms to gladden you,
    and should his stay be brief,
    You’ll have his lovely memories
    as solace for your grief.

    I cannot promise he will stay,
    since all from earth return,
    But there are lessons taught down there
    I’ll want this child to learn.

    I’ve looked this wide world over
    in my search for teachers true,
    And from the throng that crowd life’s lanes,
    I have selected you.

    Now, will you give him all your love,
    nor think the labor vain,
    Nor hate Me when I come to call
    to take him back again?

    I fancied that I heard you say,”
    Dear Lord, Thy will be done,
    For all the joy Thy child shall bring,
    the risk of grief we’ll run.

    We’ll shelter him with tenderness,
    we’ll love him while we may,
    And for the happiness we’ve known,
    forever grateful stay.

    But should the angels call for him
    much sooner than we planned,
    We’ll brave the bitter grief that comes
    and try to understand.”

    -author unknown

  3. Nick McGivney says:

    Thanks Elbog. The weight of experience gets put down on us so slowly that we don’t even notice when it began. You have a beautifully apt way of describing an all-encompassing love. Nobody said it was all sugar and spice, but nobody said that the good stuff would be laced with the bitter. You know.

    HGF: It is an inversion of the way things should be, to bury one’s child. I couldn’t even begin to reach their grief, and they were so strong. What do you do? What can you say? There is nothing. And while I can park it in the ‘blind faith’ file, never to really understand but somehow to manage to accept, it’s bloody hard not to want to lash out. Thanks for the lovely poem. I hope they find it and it can give some comfort to them.

  4. NAN P. says:

    Nick, I cried reading your post, and the comments. It is all so wrong. And there is nothing anyone can do, or say.

    A very Irish phrase just came to me, and I might actually be starting to get the meaning of it; “God love them!”

    Indeed, “God love Sorcha!”

  5. Mel says:

    Oh Nick. Sometimes being a grown-up just sucks. I am never very eloquent at times like this, but like Nan P I cried reading this. Last year I met a woman who was very interested in little Luke- the agent showing us this house. She had lost a little girl too, aged 16 days, named Charlotte. Charlotte had 9 copies of the 21st chromosome, which is not compatible with life. So she had her for a wee while, and would do it all again for those precious moments. I hope your friends find this place too.

  6. Nick McGivney says:

    Nan P & Mel: I used to think, back when I wasn’t a parent, that losing a baby must be easier than, well, you know. How in blazes could it be? Nothing is easier. It’s a big pile of shit sometimes, this life, and looking for someone to blame when things take an unfortunate but altogether natural turn is just one of the steps to be taken through it. If this living is all a series of chemical reactions then it truly is a horrible cosmic joke at times.

  7. hammie says:

    NIck, just lived through 4 days of thinking I might be leaving my kids behind. All clear at breast clinic so lump is just that – a lump.
    but leaving them either way is an intolerable pain. xx

  8. South Dublin Dad says:

    Nick, a lovely post but so very very sad 😦

  9. Jo says:

    It’s so frightening. Iknow people who have lost children, and babies, and still seem to have managed to find peace and happiness beyond it.

    But it’s hard to have faith that it’s possible.

    I suppose the reality is that sometimes babies and children must die, and that some of us are destined to carry our babies with us in our hearts, not in our arms. It’s a cruel destiny though.

    I’m so sorry for your friends.

  10. Seven and a half years ago I carried my brother’s son’s little white coffin just a last few metres. And until the day I end up in one I’ll never forget the complete and utter wrongness of it all.

  11. Nick McGivney says:

    Hammie: I’m truly happy for you, and as Mel said, life for adults just sucks sometimes in ways we just can’t even afford the time to work through sometimes. You must’ve been a jangle of nerves. Good result, crap journey.

    SDD: That about sums it up.

    Jo: So good to hear from you girl. Sending you a hug. I think the ‘hard having faith’ part is where the anger comes in. Gotta be angry at something. God can take it.

    XBox: Great to hear from you too, man. Sorry I haven’t called in lately, and I hope you’re all doing well. I’m sorry you had your experience of loss too. It’s gut-wrenching and hard to fathom. Makes me feel like an adult, and boy do I hate that.

  12. The Muse says:

    I genuinely don’t know what to say to this, if there is a God up there I hope his hand rests on your friends shoulders at the moment, can think of no worse situation, certainly makes one count one’s blessings in life.

  13. Hi..I don’t know if I’ve ever commented this blog before, but I’ve been reading it for a while, and enjoy it..

    This post is heartbreaking, and it really puts life into perspective, doesn’t it..

  14. Christine says:

    Praying for your friends. What else can you really do? How can you make sense of losing a child? May their sweet baby always be with angel guarding over what is left their battered hearts.

    “If this living is all a series of chemical reactions then it truly is a horrible cosmic joke at times.” –Oh, how I have thought the same thing so many times.

    I do think this living is more than that…the spiritual connections we make are more than that. They just have to be.

  15. Nick McGivney says:

    Muse: I hope they can find comfort somewhere too. Not easy to direct them in any specific direction though.

    Claire: Lovely to have you drop in. Sorry it’s such a sad post for your first visit. Usually we’re sunnier, and we will be again.

    Chris: They just have to be. But being mad about it is ok too. Because we’re human.

  16. Emma Mc Ivor says:

    goin up stairs to give iris and henry a kiss now.was only thinking of you before i read blog. hope your well nick .thanks again for your post s ,makes things clear sometimes.

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