hollow of hands


from Tessa:

As the regular readers of this blog know, I very rarely leave my imprint here. I love my husband and his feisty flourish of words. I love the rants and raves and naked emotion. I even love how profoundly and determinedly wrong he can be about things and people on occasion. I mean, who else lives so boldy outloud? But this is and should be his platform, without the needling of a contradicting wife (or, worse, undermining writing partner).

But Ian asked me to write something about Cooper, so here I am. Struggling.

I don’t think I can articulate much coherently. It’s been an emotional day. Here are a few impressions from the funeral.

I will never forget the way Wendy – Cooper’s aunt – reacted when she saw Ian today. She needed him so much. Sure, Ian hates The Republican Party but, other than that, he’s the least judgmental guy on earth and I think that was the air that Wendy needed to breathe.

And all of us there will remember Cooper’s father Quinn speaking about the moment he heard that his son was dead. His mind went blank and his body went cold. He left work and went to the car and then called home again. “Are you sure? Has someone called the paramedics?” And Jana said, “Quinn, he’s is gone.”

In that moment, Quinn described a kind of striking calm, a clarity, a spiritual strength that washed over him. And that strength has clearly guided him and his family through the unthinkable. Through picking a tiny casket for a little boy. Through choosing a burial site for your kid who’s supposed to start kindergarten in the fall. Through holding your other children as they grieve for their adorable little brother.

Hunter, Cooper’s oldest sister, talked about how she would miss Cooper’s sweet little body cuddled up next to hers. And Duncan, his next oldest brother, muttered “Coop would wake up in my room with a lot a good ideas, like let’s go outside and go swimming. And then we’d run around and say ‘You’re it. No, you’re it. No, you’re it.’ until we got tired and then we’d go swimming again.”

Cooper was a cool kid. He was one million percent boy as much as Lucy is one million percent girl, and, of course, she had a huge crush on him. He was six months and ten days older that her and, by the last time we saw him, he’d become a blur of wild boy fun, jumping in and out of the pool, climbing trees and riding bikes faster than Lucy could say “wait for me.”

Jana, Coop’s mom, is Ian’s first cousin and his first crush. She’s also the person who taught me as much about taking care of a baby as anyone. When I came to the family reunion with 5 month old Lucy, she was there was 10 month old Cooper, effortlessly lugging him around like the best loved sack of potatoes on earth.

I don’t share the same theology as Jana – my spiritual life leaves me with more questions than answers – but in this moment, I’m so grateful that she believes that she will be reunited with her little boy in heaven. For tonight, that’s what I’m going to believe too.


0 thoughts on “hollow of hands

  1. Salem's Little Sister

    Cooper’s birthday is two weeks before my Ben’s. I can not fathom losing him at such a young age when he is just starting to become his own true self. You guys have all been in my thoughts and most importantly in my prayers. I’m now going to go cover my boy in kisses.

  2. Bozoette Mary

    Though I don’t consider myself Catholic any longer, there is one phrase from the requiem: “And may heavenly light shine upon him.”
    May it shine upon you all.

  3. xuxE

    thinking about this is enough to put anyone on Xanax. i remember worrying at every twist and turn of pregnancy over all the myriad of harm that could come to the fetus that would end in tragic results. then finally the baby is born and you get absolutely no relief because there is a whole world of new harm possibilities that end in tragedy. and then i realized that i could easily waste my entire life worrying about this enormous question or i could just try spend my time with my kids living to the fullest and cherish each day, not knowing when the awesome togetherness will be over.
    people do get a lot of solace from faith and the possibility of connection in the afterlife, so that no matter what happens there is a way to overcome tragedy.
    but for me, i think the best solace comes from living a fully present life, all the time spent being a family, holding a child close, being in love, caring for each other, and making each day count. i believe when we pass what lives on is the imprint we make on each other that ripples out in waves, and even a small child can totally make a big splash that lives on and is always with you. as Utah Phillips says, the past didn’t go anywhere.
    or even more poetically, i believe what Khalil Gibran says:
    You would know the secret of death.
    But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
    The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
    If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
    For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.

  4. bridget

    a lovely tribute Tessa. and a beautiful little boy and family. this news had taken my breathe away since i first read ian’s post about it. it’s hard to even think about.

  5. Alan

    God love you all. This sad sad news reminded me now of my little niece Sophia who only got to live 17 hours. I saw her only dead but she’s be an early teen now. Yet in my heart a place is set for her as well as each of the others who come though our lives – our own, those of ours once removed, my foster babies and even the ones I couldn’t even foster when we were asked. Life is so sweet even as it stings. God love you all and let you remember the sweet every day.

  6. jje

    Thank you for sharing this bittersweet piece of your heart with us, Tessa. My heart is with the Williams/Kofford family.

  7. jenx67

    uncertain of what to say. i feel so sad, so heavy.
    and, wendy – of course she reached for your husband. this says so much. i’m so glad you put it out there.


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