The Invitation
Rebecca Cole

When the end of school came for four of my children, I never dreamed it could be so painful.  The pain didn't come from the last day of a class, but from an invitation to a graduation that unexpectedly arrived in the mail.   It was an invitation to the graduation of my son Christopher's best friend .

In the 7 years following Christopher's death, I had not allowed myself to think about graduation from high school.  Each time it crept into my mind, I pushed it away.  I have often cried during my daughter Elizabeth's school concerts when I've thought of how proud her brother would be of her.  I knew also that I would not be able to escape facing the reality that Christopher never got a diploma. I thought I had time to prepare myself for that.  Elizabeth wouldn't be graduating for another year.

As I held the beautiful white, silver and red embossed card in my trembling hand, the date jumped out at me.  This is the year my blonde-headed, brown-eyed child would have graduated had he survived the chicken pox.   As I gazed lovingly upon Jimmy's senior picture, joy and sorrow enveloped me.   Memories of their deep friendship emerged and I started to cry.  Jimmy had grown to be handsome.  The little boy who had been my little boy's friend was no longer a boy.  He was a tall handsome young man about to begin life as an adult.   But, regardless of how many years have passed, my Christopher still remains a small 12 year-old boy in my mind.

Christopher should have been sending invitations too.  He should have been finishing high school with the excitement that goes with it.  He should have a class ring.  He should have final exams, be dating a special girl, planning his college years.  But Christopher didn't experience high school, or even middle school.  His death erased his future and brutally tore part of mine away too.  My oldest child died.  As the years continue to pass, the ache in my scarred heart still remains.  Time eases that pain, but it never really goes away.

There are many stages through which we travel in our lives and wearing a cap and gown is one of the most fulfilling.  Sometimes we feel as if those who die young are unfairly cheated out of special moments.  But when I think of the things Christopher missed, I think of the joys I missed.  It is I who feels cheated, not Christopher.  He, I truly believe, is at a perfect peace.  He has escaped all the sorrow, worry and fear we face in this world.  He sailed away on a journey and into a place beyond our human eyes.  How can he be cheated?

When I remember that death is only the beginning of new life, my sadness becomes joy.  New life!  New life means beginnings, the old passes away, newness embraces our entire being.  New life after graduation or after death are both marvelous adventures.  Both are the end of one chapter and the beginning of another.  The pages that lay open before us are blank, never used before.  They are clean, white and crisp and we choose what to write.

I miss my son more than words can express.  I have missed the things he would have done and who he would be.  I know that even though there will never be an engraved graduation invitation, there was an invitation to the greatest event on earth.  I was invited to be his mother and I was invited to be at his graduation from life on earth.  I was there at the sacred ceremony that sent him on his way.  I was invited to his release from an imperfect body and his birth as a perfect spiritual being.

Christopher's life with me, my memories of him and his friends' love for us will be in my heart forever.  After the pain, tears and reminiscing, I was able to smile.  I was able to feel love, joy and peace.  I no longer fear the pain I know I'll feel as my other children graduate.  I am more grateful to Jimmy than I can express.  I am grateful for the love and friendship he gave Christopher.  Now, when I get an invitation in the mail, I'll remember the other invitations I've received in life, especially the one to Christopher, engraved by God.

Centering Corporation Newsletter
1531 N. Saddle Creek Rd.
Omaha, NE   68104

The following was written by Roy Peterson who passed away November 28, 1998.  Roy and his wife Juanita helped start several of The Compassionate Friends Chapters after losing their daughter to cancer.  He supported the work of Bereaved Parents of the USA.

"In remembering our children,
In sharing with each other...
We ease our pain,
We share each step,
We help smooth the road,
And we serve as witnesses
To the fact that we can make it beyond grief
As we support each other.

Happy Father's Day Roy, as you have been reunited with your precious daughter.



Season of lights, season of love and peace
Season of shadow, season of memories.
Season of warmth and joy, season of secret tears:
Give us the courage to laugh again.
Give us the power to love again
For all our new seasons
And all our new years

BP/USA WINTER 1999 Vol 4 No. 1

Almost a Whisper

There was almost a whisper that solemn night
All happenings frozen in time
For a woman who had so long dreamed
All shattered as crystal on cement
For this was to be the most magical of days;
A daughter to be born unto her
A daughter to love
A daughter to watch grow
A daughter to nurture
A daughter to hold
On this day a daughter was born unto her
This woman was given a chance
She had her daughter to hold
If only for a few short moments
She had her daughter to love
This love will be forever in her heart
This love will never die
This little girl was given the time to say her final goodbyes
At the same time as she said her first hellos
The life-filled, long awaited scream of virgin lungs
Was not heard
Instead there was almost silence
Almost because this little girl could not leave unheard
There was a whisper, or almost a
whisper on those tiny lips
That night
A whisper louder than any crack
of thunder to the ears of the
Loving Mother
A whisper that said, "I am here,
acknowledge me, and don't forget me,
for I must go, I must say goodbye."
In a whisper was said what many
cannot achieve in a lifetime
In a whisper a little girl's life was lived.

Jennifer Wessner
TCF, Regina, SK, Canada

The Dash
Author Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning--to the end.

He noted that first came the date of her birth
And spoke of the following date with tears
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years.

For the dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth.....
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not how much we own:
The cars...the house...the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard...
Are there things you'd like to change?
For you never know how much time is left,
(You could be  at "dash mid-range".)

If we could just slow down enough
To consider what's true and real,
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger,
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we've never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect,
And more often wear a smile...
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy's being read
With your life actions to rehash...
Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?

Linda Ellis
Copyright 1998


We do not need a special day To bring you to our minds.
The days we do not think of you Are very hard to find.

Each morning when we awake, We know that you are gone.
And no one knows the heartache As we try to carry on.

Our hearts still ache with sadness And secret tears still flow.
What it meant to lose you No one will ever know.

Our thoughts are alwoys with you, Your place no one can fill.
In life we loved you dearly; In death we love you still.

There will always be a heartache, And often a silent tear.
But always a precious memory Of the days when you were here.

If tears could make a staircase, And heartaches make a lane,
We'd walk the path to heaven And bring you home again.

We hold you close within our hearts; And there you will remain,
To walk with us throughout our lives Until we meet again.

Our family chain is broken now, And nothing seems the same,
But as GOD calls us one by one, The chain will link again.

Connie Dyer
BP/USA, Springfield, IL


Imagine for a moment a mobile. All the shapes are of different weight and design, but they hang together harmoniously, each catching the sunlight and creating a melodious rhythm in the wind.  Now snip one of the pieces; there is chaos.  Each of the remaining pieces smash into one another, and what was a melodious sound is now a clanging, almost wailing in the wind.  When a child is snatched by death from a family, the results are the same, multiplied innumerable times.

Stephen Barrett, TCF, Ottawa, IL

Ours For Always

How does one measure how long it had been?  By the number of sunsets or by the tears that have fallen?  The sweet solitude of slumber gives way to morning-teared memories of all that used to be when I had you safe inside of me.  Our time together is no more.  Only God knows why you went away.  Sometimes I forget you are no longer here as I lovingly whisper your name.  And then I remember... and life is not the same        

Debbie Dickinson

To Those I Love and Those Who Love Me

When I am gone, release me, let me go.  I have so many things to see and do.  You mustn't tie yourself to me with tears, Be happy that we had so many years.

I gave you my love, you can only guess How much you gave to me in happiness.  I thank you for the love you have shown.  But now it's time I traveled on alone.

So grieve a while for me, if grieve you must.  Then let your grief be comforted by trust.  It's only for a while that we must part  So bless the memories within you heart.

I won't be far away, for life goes on.  So if you need me, call and I will come- Tho' you can't see or touch me, I'll be near All of my love around you soft and clear.

And then when you must come this way alone I'll greet you with a smile and say, "Welcome Home"

Author Therese Marie Horn

submitted by Matt's sister, Tammy Salaun, TCF, Augusta, GA

If I Had One More Day
If I had one more day,
my child, to spend with you,
Anything you want I promise we would do.
If I had one more day,
to see your precious face,
We'd wake up bright and early--
not one moment would be waste.

If I had one more day,
in your sweet voice let me hear,
"I'll love you, Mom, forever and
I'm waiting for you here."
If I had one more day,
I'd beg for another,
Because it's the only way to mend
the heart of a grieving mother.
Brenda Taylor, TCF, Nashville, TN

Season of Lights, season of love & peace
Season of shadow, season of memories
Season of warmth & joy,
Season of secret tears

Give us the courage to laugh again
Give us the vision to hope again 
Give us the power to love again
For all our new seasons, And all of our new years

Sascha Wagner

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Music: "Claire de Lune"-Claude Debussy

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