(photograph by Cole Rise)
As they approach the dread of night
Whose darkness is the horror of that day;
As they confront their failure to protect
Or even offer comfort in the dying;
As they cry There is no God –
Or if there is I hate him
O God, in your absence, walk with them.
As they cling to the umbilical cord
Severed once yet still attached;
As they grieve, not for themselves,
But for their child’s loss,
As they cry There is no Heaven –
Or if there is why am I not there too?
O God, in their suffering, let their love be at peace
As they waken in the morning
And in those brief Spring moments
As truth forces its way into their minds
But their hearts refuse to believe;
As reality cruelly dawns and there is no escaping
O God, in their weeping, share their pain.
As they move through that dark tunnel which is the future
In fear that each step will taken them further from their love,
As they walk blindly forward,
Heavy footed, blinkered, no questions left to ask;
As they sing no songs and laugh no laughter –
Or if they do, despise themselves for it
O God, in their despair, bring hope.
Elizabeth Miles Chester is a company director from Bristol UK. This poem/prayer was written in response to the Dunblane massacre of small children in 1996 and was a reflection on her own experience of losing two baby boys in 1974 and 1976.