Mary's entrance to cemetery

Our baby son died in his crib just before he was five months old.

“You must have walked in your sleep and smothered him.”

He was such a happy baby, he had great big belly laugh and he loved to bounce on a knee, anybody’s knee. His sisters adored him. At two and four, they were so completely loving and helpful that I was quite amazed at the lack of sibling rivalry, and always grateful for their help.

My husband found him that early morning. We were living at his parents’ house (again) because of a layoff (at least this time he hadn’t quit his job). He woke his mother up, and I heard her sleepy voice say “Oh my God,” – I struggled out of bed and followed the sounds of their voices. Behind them, I saw what could only be described as a fog, and went straight to the kitchen stove to make sure there wasn’t a fire. About that time my mother-in-law came out of the back bedroom holding my son. He was lifeless. His lips were blue. I knew he was dead. I heard myself think, “This is forever.” After that I was blank for days, or maybe years.

After his accusation, as soon as it was available I read the autopsy, every terrible word, looking for evidence of my “crimes.” It said that he appeared “well fed and cared for,” but he was still dead. It was called “crib death” back them, now it is called SIDS. As far as I know it is still unexplained.

I had wished for my own death so many times during the marriage, that I almost believed I had some complicity in the Death Angel’s visit. But I had two little girls to take care of, so I really couldn’t just lie down and die of grief. I had to go on, somehow.

How do you live through losing a child? I don’t know. I don’t remember. I stayed married to my abuser for twelve long years. The Bible that was given to me when my son died talked about the virtuous wife. I tried. I really tried to make myself into a good wife, so that we might have a good marriage. It took me five years of reading that book from front to back, over and over, to discover that a “good” wife did not have to suffer being beaten. She could return to her father’s home and be done with the marriage.

My father didn’t want my problems, oh well… that little bit of information gave me hope. We could leave. I didn’t have to be a prisoner of bad judgment for the rest of my life. My children didn’t have to live in a war zone. They could be free. We could be free.

That was the beginning of our new beginning.


This photo is from my dear aunt Mary. It is the entrance to a very old cemetery that was near their home in Illinois..