“Who Will Be My Next Mother If…”

a writing by Elizabeth Padillo Olesen


When we reached the summer camp area in the southern part of Jylland at a Boarding School where the camp organizers have rented for over a hundred participants, the little boy, the 10 year-old and only child of the deceased Betty, hugged me and said, ”You are my new mother now and I love you.”

I embraced him and said, “I love you too. I am glad that you are here. You can always call me your aunt or mother. Do as you please.”

The boy looked at me in a very serious manner and said, “ If you are gone too, who will be my next mother?”

The question struck me deeply. What an existential question the boy raised before me! Not something to joke about. The boy has just lost his mother for more than a week now. With a smile, I touched his shoulders and said, “God will never leave you. He will always provide people who will take care of you.”

With that short dialogue, it dawned upon me, how every one, either a child or an adult, tries to cope up with the reality of the death of a loved one. Death is something to be feared of, something to be conquered. One way of conquering the fear of losing someone special because of death is to realize that one is not left alone, that there are people around who will continue to fill in that vacuum brought about by the absence of a loved one. A child has a natural way of coping up!

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