By, Charlene Wexler

Last night, my best friend’s son died. She has a large, loving family and they were with her at the hospital. But she has turned to me for her main support, because she knows I understand what lay ahead for her. Unfortunately, she has joined a club of which I have been a member for more nearly 30 years. It is a cruel club I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. It is the club of mothers who have lost a child.

I stayed up most of the night after leaving the hospital, thinking about the son I lost and about what I would say to my friend. She has been my support through the years. She has seen me go on vacations, go to parties, laugh, and have fun. Now she will realize that I was really a big fake since that awful day in 1981.

She will never be the same person, because there will be a hole in her heart and part of her mind will shut down forever. In the beginning days and months she will think of her child constantly. She will be driving and pull over because she will have no idea where she is going. She will be in the grocery store and have to abandon her cart and leave, because some food will remind her of him. She will have no idea why some people will ignore her, or stop talking when she enters a room.

Most people are scared of death, and the death of a child is the worst thing that can happen. Others just don’t know what to say to you. We are creatures of habit. We have been taught that the natural order of life is for the parent to die before the children.

Friends will always ask you, “How are you?’ and you will look at them strangely. You may answer “fine,” while you are really thinking, “How do you think I am after being hit by a train?’

People will tell you that it will get better with time. It does get better, because you soon realize you have two choices: to go crazy, or to try to function. Because after a few months, society forgets and expects you to get back to normal. So you will start living again, and then a holiday or his birthday will come around, or God forbid someone else’s child will die, and the wound will open up and the flood of tears will come again.

Because you’re a member of the Cruel Club. And you can never leave.