When I tell people that I lost a boy I loved to childhood cancer, questions inevitably follow.
"Your child died of cancer?"
"No, he wasn't my child."
"Oh. Your nephew?"
"No. Not a nephew."
And finally, with a note of incredulity, "Just a friend?" As if that somehow discounts my loss. After all, it's not like Paxten was related to me.
But you see, I learned something from loving Paxten: you just can't measure love. It's not like you have little cups in your heart, different sizes for different relations: venti for your own child, grande for nieces and nephews, and tall for everyone else's children. It doesn't work that way. You just love the child. That love gets all mixed in with all the other love in your heart. Loving this one helps you love that one. The love for that one blends with your love for another one.
And you don't want to lose any of them, because by loving them, your heart has expanded. So naturally then, when one of your beloveds slips away, the space that one occupied becomes hollow----bulky in its emptiness.
So yeah. Paxten was just a friend. He was a little preschool-aged friend who settled into my heart and claimed his very own spot, a spot that is still his. Just as it will be forever.
(Paxten passed away on April 6, 2008. He was 3 years and 7 months old.)
Aileen Mitchell Lawrimore is a mother x 3, wife x 28 (years not men), minister, speaker, writer, retreat leader, and lover of beagles and books. She has a lot to say.
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