Today at work an older couple (probably at least in their mid-70's) came in to the store. They walked around the store for a while, then I overheard the wife tell the husband, "Just ask him, we've looked everywhere!" The husband approached me at the counter with a picture frame with a poem entitled "If Tears Could Build a Stairway", a 4x6 photo of a curly-haired man, and an inscribed name-plate.
"Do you have anything like this?" he asked, and then continued immediately, "That's our son. He died 11 years ago, he would be 52 today."
I looked for something like the frame, and found something similar but with a different poem and no space for a name plate. "Did you want one similar to this or just like it?" I asked.
"We'd prefer one just like it, but we did get this 11 years ago, so it may not exist any more."
I did a thorough database and internet search, and did eventually find the item, only to find that it is no longer made. I informed them of this and asked if they would like me to find something similar. They didn't. So, I suggested that perhaps a framing store could help them assemble a frame and matte and they could copy the poem and then put it all together. They agreed that this was a good idea.
I was (and am again as I write this) struck immensely with the weight of this couple's grief. They didn't necessarily act sad, but their sadness permeated even their casual speech and motions. The wife's face, especially, was ashen and held in its creases a decade of mourning.
When they left I had to go to the back to compose myself. I wasn't crying, but the heaviness of their sadness seemed to grip my very soul. All I could think was, "Parents were not meant to outlive their children."