Monday, September 20, 2010

where is justice?

behind the cancer center, there is a garden, where i go on breaks during the training. we are learning to put communities back together---restorative justice---after something tragic has occurred.

an older gentleman sits small, in the spacious lobby, concerned, "what time the doctor will see me today?"

we watch a video of six college students that burned down a wood bridge, hundreds of years old, in their town. it was late, they had been out, they were not thinking, gasoline spilling between the cracks as they lit the match. firemen tried to save it, all that was left was cinders bobbing in the creek.

a white clad nurse kneels, next to the old man, comforting him, as he gazes out the window.

people were angry, regardless of their age...who would do this? who would do this? letters to the editor screamed for justice from the page, lock them away, lock them away. punish them for what they have done.

through the glass doors, the garden waits, some couples sit in rocking chairs, by a stream burbling down rocks and waterfalls, built between trees, finding serenity for where they find themselves; some sick, others there to care.

they brought the boys together with the town to hear the emotions, to hear their stories on what that bridge meant to them, how they were feeling and the victims got to speak their peace, and hear the shame crawl across the boys faces. pain got a voice, beyond the evidence.

questions sit heavy on the shoulders of the families as they rock and i stand under the same sun with them and wish i could give them a voice as well. as they did to those hurt by the bridge burning, give them justice. i wish i could help them find answers to bring their communities back together, as they did with the six boys in the video.

where is justice in a disease, that kills indiscriminately?

there are stories to tell, there are stories to hear, and emotions that can not be mopped up, but felt. in this we can be a community, when we do not have the answers.

my break is over and they are waving me back in...

72 comments:

Tina said...

Cancer sure is horrid. And burning the bridge was horrid. But you're right, in coming together as a community, there is hope. Nice little shot there during your break :-)

Steven Anthony said...

cancer...I know it all to well...first the man I had adopted as my dad, then my mother, then my auntie...I hate it so much!~ sorry this one brought up a ton of emotion...crying.

hugs

Who Is Afraid of Alfred Hitchcock? said...

Hi! Brian...
Brian said, "We are learning to put communities back together---restorative justice---after something tragic has occurred."

This post seems like several unanswered questions need to be answered, but it's nice to know that a step is being taken to bring the community back together.

"my break is over and they are waving me back in..."

Thanks, for sharing this on your break!
DeeDee ;-D

ModernMom said...

....there really is no justice.

TALON said...

There's enough unwanted, undeserved pain in life without creating any more. Beautifully reflective piece, Brian.

BeMistified said...

It just eats me up inside, when people think it is okay to take away something that brings joy to others.

Beautiful post.

Claudia said...

..and we have no answers…feel the tears welling up again like yesterday when i had no answers for my son's tears when his friend's father got killed..

Sam Liu said...

Cancer is a terrible, terrible disease. It has caused so much pain, so much sadness, in my life and in the lives of so many others. There is no justice in that, and sometimes it seems that there is no justice in the world. But your post leaves one glowing, strengthened by an enduring message - that together, a common humanity can overcome hardship, through peace, through love, and through hope.

Travel & Dive Girl said...

This makes my heart ache. My mother passed away from cancer 3 years ago and it happened so suddenly. There is no justice.

SuziCate said...

Brian, I think this is one of your most pignant and provacative posts ever.

natalee said...

Wow... that one was powerful.. cancer is one of my biggest fears... I loved how I felt bouncing through thoughts in this piece......

ladyfi said...

So very true. Cancer is terrible, and yet the way people gather around the patient is also uplifting.

Brian Miller said...

it is nice to see them gathered around...cancer has touched our family as well...i have written about it before, but being here has rekindled much of it..

JStar said...

I am speechless...It touches me so deeply that I cant find the appropriate words to express here.

adeeyoyo said...

It is very good to bring the community together, Brian. I was once one of those THOUGHTLESS teenagers who did something awful and I would do anything to undo it now. Teenagers are definitely another breed and they don't always think of the consequences of their actions. I think parents and schools should open their eyes to this before they reach their teens.

Becky said...

UGH cancer.My husband died young of esophageal cancer,8 years ago.A year later I had thyroid cancer.Im cancer free now 8 years.Im extremly lucky.Sadly others are not.I have seen so many suffer from these horrid disease.My husband was diagnosed in December and died April 1st.Of course his was well advanced as is always the case with esophageal cancer.

I thank God everyday,for being lucky,for being able to have a life to enjoy and be happy.

Jill said...

Some break huh?

I hate cancer.

Monkey Man said...

I am a cancer survivor, but not all survive. Mrs. MM lost a dear friend just a week ago. This beautiful soul was only 35 years old and left a son of four. A son who may never remember his mother. Disease knows no justice.

Titanium said...

A poignant reminder to 'live for today' and give more than we take...

Thanks for this, Brian.

Myrna R. said...

I used to work (social worker) with people who had cancer. After a while I was able to smell it. And I feared it. Still do.

My mother, though, is a survivor. Cancer free for over 20 years.

Your post brought up so many thoughts. Thanks.

Daniel said...

An interesting juxtaposition. Those that are hurt by and suffer from uncontrollable acts of nature. Others are hurt by and suffer from the thoughtless actions of others. Both are part of the human condition my friend.

signed...bkm said...

justice...great question brian..there is no justice in many things...that is why community is so important...hope and love - that is what community offers when there is nothing else...bkm

Jinksy said...

Healing takes many forms...

e said...

Provocative on many levels, Brian.

drybottomgirl said...

The big "C" has taken so many from my life. My mother has survived both breast, and uterine in the same year. How very true your post is. Where is the justice for the victims of the quiet killers......

DJan said...

I think everyone has been touched by cancer, one way or the other. My sister and my mother were both breast cancer survivors. But my mother died of heart disease at 69, my dad at 62. They are just as dead and I miss them terribly. Thanks for doing what you're doing, and for being such a good writer. It matters.

Goofball said...

you have so much attention for the people around you

Maggie May said...

Cancer has affected me, my family and friends.One in 3 of us get it and we have to fight the wretched disease. It is the scourge of our times.
maggie X

Nuts in May

Zuzana said...

Just recently, sister of my close friend, a mom of two small kids, got rushed to a hospital hospital with a cancer scare...
This was a very touching post...
xoxo

william said...

have lost all my family to cancer, sad disease, good post mate :)

Prayer Girl said...

What would we do without each other? Without our community? I would be lost.

Where is justice? Beats me!!!!

PG

Brian Miller said...

thank you each for sharing a bit of your stories to make this all the more personal...it does seem cancer has touched so many...i dont think i know many that dont have a story...

Maha said...

That's exactly why I am not an atheist... because life is unfair. You see, in my religion (Islam), anyone who suffers from diseases in life and endures it with patience, God will reward him way beyond his suffering.

JeffScape said...

Hmm... very introspective. A bit too emotive at the end, for my taste, but a good effort. And just enough of a style-shift from your usual fare to feel fresh.

Nice.

Christina said...

My family has felt the pain of cancer, as we now do with my mother-in-law. It is an ugly disease that robs us of our loved ones, and robs our loved ones of us. Thanks for sharing. Very poignant, I'd expect nothing less from you Brian. Well done.

Katherine said...

Cancer is an insidious, indiscriminate and cruel disease. When you have been touched by cancer you never forget & it puts all other things in life in perspective. If only this perspective could come naturally to ALL in society, this world would be a much better place.
I have however seen such stoic bravery, such love, compassion, empathy and hope whilst assisting patients & their families. And through their pain & struggles have learned true humanity.
Brian I loved the sentiment & truth behind these words. You have a pure heart and very kind eyes. Seeing into people not just looking at them. Just lovely!

Deidra said...

"...i stand under the same sun with them..." That line right there. Man! I think I sometimes forget that we all stand under the same sun. Those of us who burn and are burned - by fire, by chemicals pumped in. And I wonder if maybe, realizing that we all stand under the same sun may be the beginnings of justice?

What an amazing break you had!

Shrinky said...

Yes, there is no thug like cancer to keep things in perspective - I have known those they afflict, as well as the hospices they walk, only far too well.

Tom said...

someone always has to pay. interesting how you link two separate yet very alike circumstances. nice

TechnoBabe said...

Cancer takes whomever it wants to. No one is save from its power. It overwhelms and it takes and never ever gives. Yes, we all know someone who has suffered its ravages, some lived and some died. My mother has had cancer three separate times and she still lives. My son in law died of pancreatic cancer. And more. Always more in each family.

Arts Web Show said...

Cancer, such a vicious thing.
Maybe science is getting a hold on it.
hopefully

Eva Gallant said...

Cancer is such a horrible disease. I lost a sister to it years ago. She died before she ever saw a grandchild.

Fireblossom said...

That's a shame about the bridge. :-(

CherylK said...

You've really touched a nerve here, Brian. Very powerful, indeed.

I think cancer touches everybody in some way or another. Even just the worry of cancer can worm its way into your psyche...it's insidious. In that regard you are right...there is no justice.

But people coming together because of it is a good thing.

n. davis rosback said...

just being there to listen.
a place to go where people can hear and just understand.

i think that is worth a lot.

Bing (PinkLady) said...

brian, my mom is a cancer survivor but i have lost most of my relatives (maternal side) to cancer. our doc says we''re a fertile ground for cancer cells. sounds scary, right? but if death is truly inevitable for everyone, i would rather know when my time would come than be taken away from my loved ones in a sudden, tragic manner without proper goodbyes or farewell message.

brian, this is a lovely and insightful post. thanks for sharing your thoughts.

The Retired One said...

My career in nursing was always full of these kind of questions as to why disease strikes the most wonderful people without reason--why young people died .....it was hard not to linger on the unfairness of it all.

Slamdunk said...

Thanks for making me think Brian. I am not an advocate for restorative justice, but your writing captures so much present and past.

Great post.

emily wierenga said...

this hit a nerve, in a good way, for my mum has brain cancer... and i know, i've asked this many a-time: where is justice? thank you, brian. i know he's coming one day on the wings of heaven...

Lori said...

So sad...so many stories yet so beautiful that people can gather around one another in their pain..."pain has a voice"...so many of us have been touched in one way or another by this disease..."I stand under the same sun with them.."...you write so beautifully of a topic so filled with loss & pain. XX

Vodka Logic said...

your heart is so full and you write it all so well.

I have had iron infusions in the cancer clincs and it is so sad to see the other "real" patients.. makes one appreciate what we have.

Alan Burnett said...

Perhaps our mistake is to search for justice in such things. A fine, thoughtful piece, Brian.

the walking man said...

Before you can give voice to them who seek justice you have to understand the truth of the justice you are trying to vocalize.

"shit happens" Just never seemed to be the right voice to me.

There is justice in disease but alleviating the pain it brings is not an issue of justice but rather one of comfort.

Candie Bracci said...

There is no justice when it comes to illness and yes cancer is found in all families.Poignant post Brian.

Lorraine said...

Ohyour writing gets to me...I read once in a very spiritual book, that when human fear is gone there will be no need for cancer...

Vicki Lane said...

Beautiful, Brian. Sometimes there are no answers but being allowed to ask the questions brings some small measure of comfort.

mama-face said...

what a powerful use of comparison. we've all (or nearly all) been affected by cancer and have felt the 'powerlessness' over its cruel terror. I watched the fire burn through my dear friend just over a year ago. I'm dreading October (breast cancer awareness month) for reasons that are difficult to explain. Maybe you could do so for me?

Pat said...

Cancer leaves a bitter taste in my mouth - I've lost too many family members to this horrible disease. It is a senseless disease. We can ask Why? But get no answers.

slommler said...

This piece has me at a loss for words. I found myself sitting next to the old man and holding his hand and rocking with him. Hope...forgiveness...understanding!
Hugs
SueAnn

Caty said...

illness doesn't ever seem to come with justice...nice write, Brian

Barbara said...

Cancer has affected each and every one of us, I bet. It's so heartbreaking. I am watching my SIL die day by day with brain cancer.
And my father; and my best friend. And so many others......

Matty said...

It's easy to cast stones. The people crying out for justice would not be so anxious for it if it were one of their kids who did the deed. The families of those kids need help too.

deb said...

you are such a good soul.
I always come away remembering the hope here Brian, and I think that counts for a lot.
I think that is what community can and should do.

Ed Pilolla said...

the epidemic today is cancer. it didn't used to be. communities of people come together becuz that's all we can do while the powers continue to pollute our world and give us more cancer, without an end in sight.
provocative indeed, brian.

Magpie said...

Such an evocative post.

AmyLK said...

Cancer shows no justice while the town folk could show it to the kids. I hate cancer.

Tracy said...

This is so true, Brian. I know many people who ask the same question. Cancer strikes indiscriminately - I like to think. Unlike stupid things boys do. Not cancer in my family but something else, and another question I always ask is "Why my sister? Why not me?"

secret agent woman said...

You'll sure not find justice in cancer.

Marla said...

Well, you know my little sister's story. And you know my friend Ellen is gone. Now, I am caring for a lady in her last stages.

Cancer sucks!

Mmm said...

VERY compelling indeed. another great post, Brian.

Syd said...

I wish that the disease were not so devastating. We are healthy one day and then get a diagnosis that brings most to their knees. Thanks for sharing your feelings and for all that you do to help those who suffer.

Nessa said...

Sharing, empathizing, listening - all make a community that can heal more than the physical.