Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Questions

Soft music drifts through the room, his face carved with a smile as if he were dreaming of the peaceful melody behind closed eyes. Off to the side a plush brown teddy bear shivers in his purple ribbon, missing his warm embrace. Tucked tightly in his tiny fingers a sprig of yellow flowers, dangling a note Love, Mama and Daddy. My cousins sleep is enternal, inside his 30 inch coffin.

That was two years ago, and for the brief four months of his life we visited him in the hospital at UVA. His kidneys were the size of grapefruit, pushing his legs out of socket. We never gave up hope.

Why does this happen?

Silverware clinks on everyday dishes, quickly losing their burden to hungry mouths. Idle chatter and reprimands for climbing over the table to steel a taste of butter fill the air, smiles infectious...all pause as the clattering phone vibrates across the couter. Words rush from the speaker in exasperation, overpowered by the sound of her heart shattering into a thousand pieces. Her husband left her for an old girlfriend, the All American couple, no more.

We were best friends. We went to church together, hung out multiple times a week, talked on the phone almost daily. He never said a word. He never returned my calls again.

What do you say?

I would love nothing more than in that moment to make everything right, by word or a snap of the fingers, but it is beyond me. And the last thing anyone wants is for someone to tell them how to fix it or say they know how it feels...

We all experience pain. Everyone has a story...of death, of job loss, of heart break, of illness. In telling them, they bring us together, because we can all relate. No one escapes. There is comfort in just being together. Because there are some questions we will never have the answer to.

The danger is that we camp there in the suffering, letting pain become the center of our universe...we either get bitter or better. The bitterness robs us of what we do have, replacing it with a void of what we don't have...of life.

I am not my parents first child, though I am the oldest. My brother was still born. If my mom had stayed in the pain, I never would have had a chance at life.

40 comments:

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi Brian:)

I am sitting here with a cup of steaming hot tea and reading your magnificent post.

A death and a divorce.

Two questions:
Why does this happen?
What do you say?

As regards death, I can only say what the poet William Wordsworth thought. We all come from God for a brief sojourn in this world. We have to go back to HIM after this brief stay. We are here to sing his praises.

You see a beautiful flower. Whether it is in your garden or in a remote place where no one can see it and appreciate it, the flower will remain just as beautiful. The beauty will not be less because there is no one to admire it. The flower,with a very brief life, is only singing God’s praises and glorifying His might and splendor.

Some of us stay long and some of us stay for a short period. People who stay for a short period are blessed because they can get back to God faster. But we thinking and feeling people find it difficult to accept this fact. The earth in which we live acts as our foster mother. It offers us too many temptations and our divinity is lost.Hence the question-why does this happen?

As regards divorce, I would like to believe that there was no real love in the first place. The couple got married for XYZ reasons but not out of true love for each other. Once the living together became unbearable or stale, they separated. There is nothing more to read into that.

As regards your birth, I believe mothers are representatives of God. The pain they go through, the troubles they take, the sacrifices they make to bring up a child is something unimaginable and cannot be explained in words. We cannot thank them enough or give them sufficient praises.

These are some thoughts that came to my mind as I read your fantastic post. But the fact is, I would have also asked the same questions under similar circumstances.

Many thanks for igniting my mind.

Have a nice day Brian,
Joseph

only a movie said...

Everyone has a story...of death, of job loss, of heart break, of illness. In telling them, they bring us together, because we can all relate. No one escapes. There is comfort in just being together. Because there are some questions we will never have the answer to.

Very well said, Brian. Thanks. :-)

Pastor Sharon said...

Brian,
You have the heart that is called to write, heal, and just be that person, everyone could be comforted having around.

There is no pressure to allow what is to be what is. Your ability to help us grow, those of us who know you only through blog writing, is overwhelming and beautiful.

It is a gift from God.

An Open Heart said...

Powerful stuff....

;o)
S

Amy said...

Very powerful indeed!! I could get lost in your writing! The thoughts they bring. . .Thank you for being true.

I hear those questions often in my job as a nurse. Why does this happen and what do you say?

Most times there are no words. And asking why, many times only leads to more questions and more blaming.

Nancy said...

Wow, you could not be more right. My heart goes out to each and everyone involved in your stories. Such pain and heartbreak. It seems our lives have those moments and we either break or get better. Getting better is always the best option.

Kathleen said...

I was reminded today that healing often requires pain. And, of course, the reverse is true. Krista Tippett, host of Speaking of Faith (on NPR) interviewed Thich Naht Hanh, who said he would not give up sorrow because it is what builds compassion in us. That's what came up for me as I read your intriguing post.

Goofball said...

"Everyone has a story...of death, of job loss, of heart break, of illness. In telling them, they bring us together, because we can all relate."

that is very much true. I'm often surprised by how much is behind colleague's faces, neighbour's doors, ....

"what do you say". I guess sometimes you don't need to say anything, just be there and listen. I know I have to watch out as I always tend to start talking my own story. I do so exactly because what you wrote : I can relate. Yet I must remind myself it's not about my own story on those very moments but theirs.

One Nurse said...

Most often there are just no words!!

Great post Brian!

subtorp77 said...

Brian well put, on all points. And even tho' science has mapped the genes we possess; they are light-years away from solving things like this. God bless.

Sande said...

My ignorance would have me run or hide from situations like this. Now I can at least stand as a signpost and point them to SomeOne Who does have the answers.

My mom is one courageous lady like your mum. She lost my sister in birth seven years before me.

Life well written.

Candie Bracci said...

Hello Brian,I've been there yesterday at Ronda's.I was kind of low and may have sound a bit extreme.You are saying beautifully that yes there is a reason for everything.Life continues and beautiful things can come again.You are right.Still it depends on how the person can handle it,losing a kid is I repeat the worst thing ever.Thank you for those words.

Beth said...

So wonderfully worded. And, so true. My father died when I was a child. While I've missed him terribly, I've used that experience to reach out to the children at my school who have faced similar things. A hurt can make you more approachable and understanding if you let it.

Mrsupole said...

Hi Brian,

I cannot tell you that time makes it easier because I know that is not necessary true. But you do think about it less often.

I almost lost my second daughter and she was born a month early and was okay because I had spent months on bed rest. Then I lost the next four with miscarriages. One came out in the toilet and I did not know what to do. We were living in Panama at the time. I said a prayer and flushed it down. I just could not deal with doing anything else. Luckily each time I was not very far along in the pregnancy. They finally fixed my hubby because it pretty much had been decided that I could not carry anymore.

I do not know what I would have done if I lost a child that I had known, and count myself lucky that I did not have to go through that. My mom had to go through losing two sons, younger brothers of mine. We were young, but we still remember, then my mom was lucky and had two more children who lived. I can still remember going to the funerals almost 50 years ago. I am not sure how much it affected my mom at that time because she already had five kids before that had happened. She can talk about it with me now, but because the first baby only lived days and the second one died right after birth, she did not really get to know them either.

But for me reading at Ronda's site and yours here, has brought up so many memories. It has been 30 years since I lost mine and here I sit crying still. I still cry at times about what could have been and what I lost. Would one of them been the son I wanted so much. I am so happy that I had my girls, but I always felt the loss of a possible son. I cannot even explain the pain, but then I have to stop thinking about it and pick myself up and get on with life. I have to get out of what I call the dark place and go back into the light of life. I have sat on my bathroom floor and just bawled and would ask God why it had happened and then wonder what I had done wrong. Kinda like the Karma thing that Ronda was talking about.

Then when things have not gone right during my marriage I have done the same thing. Then I try to talk to God and just keep talking as much as I can to him until I start to feel more normal and can come back to the light of life. And sometimes I have wished that I could leave the light, but knew I had two beautiful daughters that needed me and with God's help I was always okay.

Now I have grandsons and granddaughters that have blessed my life. They are a joy and I have so much love for them. I thank God for them and their love that they have for me. I want to protect them and keep them in the light of life, but I always know that things can change in an instant.

I think what Joseph said here about some getting back to God faster than others is probably the most calming thing that I have ever heard about the death of a child. I pray I remember that forever.

Okay, sorry I wrote a book again and let some laundry out, but with these two posts it just could not be kept inside of me.

And I did answer your comment on my Mrsupole's Crap website. I am not sure if you have seen it. You are a very special person and we are all blessed to have found you.

Thank you.

God bless.

Kate Hanley said...

Very well said indeed. I sit here thinking about times I may not have been compassionate enough with others - perhaps they were going through such a tragedy. Thanks for the reminder.

Debbie said...

That is such a difficult situation. And I think everyone moves through their pain at different speeds.

Gaston Studio said...

I so agree with Kathleen about pain building compassion. God bless you Brian and thank you for putting our thoughts into such beautiful words.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

You have the ability to put emotions into words....all I can say is....keep writing

Brian Miller said...

thanks for all the thoughts...i definitely don't want to make light of others pain or make it seemeasy to deal with...hiding from it doesn't make it go away, and each takestheir own time in finding their way out of it...there is no set time for grieving...our hearts will never be the same, but we can be better...

Lorraine said...

what to say...how to comfort, some loss is immeasurable, descent into a hell we don't deserve, what to say? Never found the answer to that, so I just pray, pray that somehow...somehwere all the answers reside

beautiful and tormented read, I'm sorry

Joanna Jenkins said...

Big sigh.
Wonderfully written.
Thank you

Protege said...

A powerful read through and through. You managed to convey wisdom of a lifetime through a few lines. A rare talent and an indication of a beautiful mind.;)
Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by my place, I appreciate it very much.;))

Fer*Cambe said...

Amazingly powerful and wonderful to read as always Brian. Thank you.

BeautifulWreck said...

Excellent post. We all have a story, or stories and it often is what ties many of us together and allows us to empathize with each other.

Akelamalu said...

Two sad situations. Having lost two grandchildren (aged 5 and 3)I too asked the question Why? The loss of the children resulted in my son's divorce - I asked Why then also. Who knows - it's life and death - there is no answer.

Thanks for visiting me and taking the time to comment, it gave me the chance to read this post. :)

Meeko Fabulous said...

Hi Brian. Such are life's little mysteries. I saw so much of me in this post. I lost a friend for no reason other than unreturned phone calls and after a while I got tired of calling. Life hands us lemons. We can either let it make us bitter or add lemon juice and splash of vodka and make the best of what we do have and be thankful for it.

Maggie May said...

You are so right. I guess we need to move on but it isn't easy sometimes.
I do love the way you write and was sorry to hear about your missing brother but it is a good thing your mum didn't stay in grief as we wouldn't have had your lovely posts.

Ronda Laveen said...

Yes, yesn my yong friend! The healing is in the sharing, the contemplation, thinking and moving out of the pain at your own speed.

we can't fix such tragic events but we can offer support.

Ronda Laveen said...

Sorry about the typos. I'm on mobile and it is hard to check.

Baino said...

I think your point rings true, just look at the comments, we all have endured or are enduring pain, emotional and physical but there is some comfort in knowing we're not alone.

Cinnamon said...

I echo Pastor Sharon. I come here for wisdom amd healing, thank you.

How's the house-hunting going? How will you keep up with your blogger pals when you start your new job? You are so attentive as a blogger that I find myself worrying about you -hoping the time you commit to all of us will not take its toll. As Walking man says...Be Well and Be Kind to Yourself.

Rick & Monique Elgersma said...

Sometimes pain allows us to find the edges of Heaven and feel the breath of God. That's a good thing. But pain also allows us to separate ourselves from others. that's not such a good thing.

otin said...

There are questions that can never be answered. That is the problem with mankind, we always think that there has to be an answer! Sometimes we need to let go and just accept the fact that someone died or people no longer get along. It is that word "Why" that always causes trouble!

Great Post!

Vodka Mom said...

i am never disappointed and always amazed when I come for a visit.


today is no different. :-)

Hit 40 said...

When I lost my Uncle Dave, we lost so much. Uncle Dave and Aunt Sally were tight with our family at the holidays. Without Uncle Dave... there were not really holidays anymore. He used to sit around and drink/chat with my dad. The ladies in another room cooking for them....

never the same. You have to move on to make new traditions and celebrations.

blueviolet said...

I don't think we ever can be the same after losses like those. Fortunately, we are equipped to adapt and learn to live again, never the same, but still alive.

The Retired One said...

Why does it happen?
The one million dollar question.

Is it a lesson to grow and learn from to gain strength of character and appreciation of life?
Is it to get strength from somewhere to go on, despite not wanting to?
Is it to cling to the remaining people of our lives with a newfound love and appreciation?

I wonder that every time someone passes unexpectantly or when I hear something so awful that I can't comprehend why...

Daniel said...

Kind of some painful things for me to read here, some truths that I have avoided facing for years. The impact of the who, what, why, when, where have been so deep and overwhelming that I have had trouble going on most days. Soon these days meld into weeks and then into years. These years of drowning in self hurt are gone, wasted, lost. They won't come back. If there was a magic potion, I would take it, but, alas, this is not real life. Everyone copes with pain and loss in their own way. But friends and togetherness are such a powerful tonic.

Stacy (the Random Cool Chick) said...

This part was particularly poignant to me:

"Everyone has a story...of death, of job loss, of heart break, of illness. In telling them, they bring us together, because we can all relate. No one escapes. There is comfort in just being together. Because there are some questions we will never have the answer to."

So very, very true.

Valerie said...

For some sorrow brings strength, for others it drives them apart. There is no explanation of the pain each one suffers.
Magnificent post, Brian.