To Lose A Child “Through Life”: A Poem

I sometimes think I should give Robin Karr joint custody of my blog (if joint custody really worked–ha!–a little dark, iffy divorce humor there). But since my blog requires scant monetary upkeep, can look after itself, and with her dedication to the excellent Hysterectomy Consequences, Robin is probably content with the informal and completely unrequested liberal visitation arrangement she already has.

Though these revelations and sharings are excruciatingly painful for her, Robin’s insights and experiences touch everybody. Whenever I post anything about her, my site views skyrocket–not because I have any particularly clever spin or insights of my own, I suspect, but because her experiences, her responses, and generosity in sharing even the worst of them, take the pulse of our entire community of people who are wronged and left destitute because of laws and systems that not only don’t work for us, but destroy us and all we hold dear.

Robin’s poem, below, came to her after reading this quote from a Huffington Post Father’s Day post regarding losing a child through death:

“In parenting there is no clear victory, but as long as you’re fully invested in your children and trying your best, you will be at peace with yourself no matter how long–or short–your children are in this world.”–Mike Spohr

“I couldn’t help but think about how this is so not true when you lose a child ‘through life’ though,” Robin says. “That’s what I’ve started telling people about the loss of Matthew and Laura. I lost them not through death, but through life. My children are alive. They are living, breathing and growing up daily. They just aren’t living, breathing and growing up daily with me – their own mother who carried them and risked my own life to bring them into not just ‘the world’, but ‘MY world’.

“Losing a child ‘through life’ is the most horrific way to lose a child. Until a couple of decades ago, nobody had ever lost a child in this way– at least not in mass numbers.  And, children didn’t go missing ‘legally’. No mother should ever have to lose a child through life. It’s not normal. It’s not natural. There is no closure. There is no end to the gut wrenching pain. The wound does not ever heal. In fact, it never even forms a scab toward healing. It remains perpetually open… The taking of living children from living mothers is something so terrible, so evil, that there is no way to really describe such a loss. Not really… However, I wrote a poem today trying to describe what it’s like to be the mother of a lost child/children.”

For Mothers of ‘Lost ‘ Children

by Robin Karr

It’s impossible to know that your child is still OK
To protect your child was your job, so you think you failed in every way
When your child is no longer with you and still so very young
You can’t help but think there must be more you could have done
You turn the music up and sob while in your car and the shower hides your tears
You know you can’t survive this kind of loss another day, another month, another year
Yet, the years go by and you realize you’re still alone
Although you did all you knew and could, your child did not come home
The child you carried and brought into this world has gone away
There’s nothing left to do but pray and pray and pray
How evil are those who desire nothing more than to destroy the mother-child bond
You continue to seek justice, but the gutwrenching pain goes on and on
No matter how huge the loss, you have no choice but to start another day
Without your child that gave your life meaning in every way
You lie down at night and think of your child and feel so all alone
There is nothing in this world you want more than for your child to just come home.
“The very last thing I said to Valeri Williams from WFAA when she interviewed me back in January 2000 was this: ‘I know Judge Pirtle would like for me to go away,” Robin finishes. “I know Ed would like for me to go away. I’m never going to go away. I have two babies. God gave me those babies and I love them. I’m not going away.”
Robin Karr 1

Janie McQueen is a career journalist and author of four books, most recently Hanging On By My Fingernails: Surviving the New Divorce Gamesmanship, and How a Scratch Can Land You in Jail. Her writing career includes news beats at major metro newspapers including The Greenville (SC) News and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and a stint as a speechwriter for the government of Taiwan during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. She currently writes for,, and Her first novel, The Motherless Child Project, written with Robin Karr, is due out in early 2015.

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