There is no greater sorrow

She opens the door before I knock.  I walk up the three pristine wooden steps and am inside.

Please, she says, and motions for me to take the royal blue recliner.  She sits near me on the couch.  There is not much bric a brac.  No little tables cluttering the narrow path that runs down the side of her slender home.  It is a white rectangle.  I can see the bedroom at the other end.  The kitchen is in between.  On top of the refrigerator is a pottery piece of three very green and large smiling frogs.

The home is perfectly kept.  I can picture her cleaning it.  Very slowly.  Every day.  Not just for company.   She sits on a couch under the picture of a lion that fills most of the wall.  The remaining space is taken up by the picture of a tiger.

It is warm out and she is wearing short sleeves.  She is so thin that the bones of her arms seem to be dressed in sheer wrinkled pieces of the finest cloth.  When she speaks – softly and slowly -  her arms move.  The wrinkles of cloth float and settle upon them.  Float and settle.

She is not my client.  Her son has died.   I am meeting with a woman whose son has died, who doesn’t know me, and who isn’t my client.  The thought circles through my mind a few times. She cannot be my client.  In Washington the law doesn’t believe that parents of killed adult children suffer a loss that should be recognized in a courtroom.  (I represent the Estate which doesn't include her).

We settle deeper into our cushions.  She shares the memories that she can.   The saying goes that there is no greater sorrow for a parent, than to survive the death of a child.  We should go first.  We would willingly go first.  It is unspeakably terrible when we do not go first.

After awhile it is time for me to leave.  She takes longer to rise than I do.  I go to shake her hand.  She wraps her hard but soft arms around me.   I hug her back carefully.  And touch my hand to the dainty ridges of her back.