Some Thoughts Following Charlie’s Death

By: Neil Mufson
It’s going to be weeks, if not months, before I can properly and personally thank each of you for all the support and care you have directed towards my family and me in the wake of Charlie’s death. Until that time, I did want to make sure you knew how immensely grateful Beth, Maeve, and I are for the countless ways you have reached out — and how helpful every expression has been. You might think that words and gestures are inadequate in the face of our loss. While nothing will erase what has happened, know that your immense kindness has helped us more strongly bear our sorrow.
Also, being amongst the joy of the children at school has done more good for me than you might imagine. I continue to feel grateful for my very human and greatly varied work that is rooted in your children and our community. I appreciate all the vibrancy and “messiness” of the school day. I am thankful for the meaning inherent in what we do every day at school as we “touch the future.”
I know from still being in the midst of having lost Amelia that I am only at the beginning of grappling with losing Charlie. But some things are already very clear, things I already knew but that are now re-carved into the front of my constant consciousness: how completely precious our children are; how truly fleeting life is; how one’s reality can quite literally change in an instant; how small most problems are.
As I attempt to somehow wrest some positive meaning and outcomes from the tragedy of Charlie’s death, in the months and years ahead I know I will be putting considerable thought and energy into ensuring that even the quiet amongst us possess the vocabulary and the means to reach out when they need to — and that the rest of us figure out how to become better attuned to the unapparent and silent suffering that can go on around us. I’ll be saying more about this in the months ahead.
In the meantime, though, I am reminded of a small volume I was given in the months following Amelia’s death. It was called Tracks of a Fellow Struggler: Living and Growing through Grief and it was written by a minister named John Claypool who had lost a young daughter. In it he wrote these words that I try to remember:  

“Life is a gift – a pure, simple, sheer gift… a gift to be received, handled, and 
participated in with gratitude… It makes things more bearable when I remember that [my daughter] was a gift, pure and simple, something I neither earned nor deserved nor had a right to. And when I remember that the appropriate response to a gift, even when it is taken away, is gratitude, then I am better able to try and be thankful that I was ever given her in the first place…”
Claypool’s words are my guideposts. Amelia and Charlie were gifts in our family’s life — pure and simple — and I am grateful for having them for as long as we did.  
Your kindness and understanding have provided significant and multi-faceted sustenance as I continue this unending journey. I know that I sure am grateful to have this community lifting me up, capable as it is of rallying in time of tragedy, offering support and comfort for all, and proving that strong communities are always greater than the sum of its individuals. Thank you.

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