The Shortest of Lives

The Shortest of Lives

An unknown, un-understandable tragedy occurred on April 6th in 1963. Un-understandable because of my youth and naiveté to comprehend what had just occurred to our young family. A baby’s life didn’t happen. Rona Lynn Hart, a full term baby girl, didn’t survive the birthing event. She was stillborn and laid to rest in an unmarked grave in Blytheville, Arkansas. I was unable to ask questions because I didn’t know I could have (and should have) done so. Today I would like to know more about that day; did she breathe, did she cry, did she see the light of day? I would like to know more about what had happened to our family on that spring day in 1963. Depression and family breakdown are known complications of events such as these.

Who would have recognized, barricading oneself in their bedroom and shooting holes in the floor with an ill placed 22 pistol, as post-partum depression in 1963. Thinking it was nutso behavior then, wouldn’t be fair today would it.

We didn’t have the money at the time for what would be a proper burial so one of my squadron’s administrative officers at the Air Base contacted the Red Cross on our behalf. They agreed to give us the required two hundred dollars, but first we would have to sign a twenty-five dollar a month allotment over to them to repay the advance. I didn’t think much about it then but today I don’t harbor great thoughts about the organization, although I feel certain they have and continue to do good things in the world for many people in need.

Over the years I often thought about Rona Lynn and her unmarked grave. Ten years ago I decided to do something about it. I paid her a visit; she would have been in her late thirties by then, and I arranged for a monument to be placed on her unmarked grave. I am so happy I did that… in fact I am ecstatic. Because, about two weeks ago, I paid her another visit and I cried of course. I had difficulty saying goodbye. Now, in my advanced years, because of time and distance involved I realize I may never get back to pay my respects again.

What is even more remarkable about this my latest visit, I learned only a few days ago, Rona Lynn’s mother had been to the grave site just a few days earlier; we almost crossed paths. I wish we had. She too suffers the same time and distance problems as do I. Life travels on and you never forget the memories, both the good ones and bad.

4 thoughts on “The Shortest of Lives”

  1. Wow, we never know of another’s heartache unless we walk in their shoes. Life is just not fair sometimes. I can not imagine your pain.

  2. What a painful event. What a painful memory. You did a good thing by going back and getting the headstone, for closure for you and her mother, if there is such a thing as closure on such sadness.

  3. What a moving story! Being able to to share the grief now, that wasn’t fully understood then.
    Very well written. Thank you for sharing this.

  4. Hi, Ronnie,
    I read your latest little story about the baby in your family who passed away. So many questions unanswered for you and members of you family and quite honestly, for me, as well.
    But then, my thoughts went to a place inside of me where I heard that tiny little voice that often speaks to me in the Silence that told me to offer this thought to you………
    Nothing happens for no reason whatsoever. All things that happen to us are for our highest good and for the good of all to whom it touches.
    These so called mysteries of our lives are miracles waiting to be discovered by us and by those we love.
    Don’t dismay, for as this story unfolds for you and for others who are part of the story……..and it will, if you let it, you will be amazed at the joy it will bring to you, ultimately and forever.
    As,always, I wish you and your loved ones, especially the mother of this child, all the love and the joy that this unfolding will bring!

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