Wake Up

I was cruising Facebook while Charlie was in therapy and I spotted a prayer request in a friend’s status. She was asking for prayers for a family that had just lost their three-year-old daughter to cancer.

The announcement was cold water in the face because I recognized the last name instantly. You see, I knew that family, and I knew that they had already lost a daughter. In fact, our children had been in the hospital at the same time–mine had lived and theirs had not. I brought home my Charlie and they planned funeral.

What do you do with a revelation like that?

You search for answers–why? why did this happen? But there really isn’t one. Two children lost to two totally different illness–both of which are just luck of the draw.

You grasp for a reason because if there isn’t a reason–if bad things really do happen to good people–and in this case, over and over–then what does that mean for the rest of us? There’s no protection, no safe guard. We all want to believe that if we’re good people who lead good lives, then we’re safe from the worst. And if the worst has already happened, you like to believe that it’s a little insurance policy: you’ve had your slice of crap, so now it’s somebody else’s turn.

We wrap ourselves in these lies–we hug them tight at night when we sleep. We whisper them to ourselves when we’re scared.

But there it is: nobody’s safe. Nobody’s exempt.

Most days I know this and I accept it, but not this time. This time it shakes me and reminds of things I’d rather not know. This time, it’s real.

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  1. My dad had a heart attack when he was 42. It was two weeks after a good ‘well physical’ from his doctor. The autopsy could only tell us that the cardiac arrest was caused by an arrhythmia, but they had no idea what caused that.

    Sometimes there is just no explanation, no reason, no understanding. Sometimes life just hurts, and there is no use trying to figure it out.

    You’re right- no one is immune.

    It definitely makes you stop and count your blessings, doesn’t it?

    • All I could do after I heard was keep saying, “hug your babies tight.” The rest of my family was in disbelief as well. It’s just so much for one family to bear.

      I’m so sorry to hear about your father–I imagine you had to learn this lesson earlier than many of us.

  2. Warning: I’m going to go all Holy Roller on this blog :) This is why the Gospel is beautiful. While your post was difficult to read, it occurring on the eve of Easter gave me such peace and a wash of feeling of love for this family. The earth is not our final destination, so the belief of heaven and salvation removes all words such as “lost, reason, protection, safety from the worst, and exemption”. I can’t imagine ever having to struggle with understanding “why,” but I’m so glad that I’m confident in my faith so that I trust that God has something awesome waiting for us and that those children are wonderfully loved and taken care of by Him. I think it’s easier to live on this earth when we realize and admit that our children are not our own. We belong to Him–We are His, and our children are His. I certainly sympathize with your pain and I’m crushed to hear what this family is going through. At the same time, I want to reassure you that there is a peace that comes when you study the Bible and realize that there is nothing to be afraid of. There is nothing more beautiful than men and women of God burying a loved one and smiling because they are confident that they are truly “home” with the Lord. Do not fear death, but have faith. “Theerefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at hhome in the body we are absent from the Lord–for we walk by faith, not by sight–we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:6-8.

    • Oh, Claire. I have no doubt that there are good things in store for the beautiful Stella. No doubt. But I am also completely aware of the hell that is a child in the hospital–the trial that it brings and the way it sucks everything good out of your life until you are sure that there is nothing left and that you will never be able to take a breath without thinking of hospitals and tubes and specialists.

      No, I do not mourn for Stella. I mourn for her parents who shouldn’t have to do this again. They just shouldn’t.

  3. It’s so true. Even though I know better now, I find myself slipping into the “well, it won’t happen to me because I’m (better, luckier, etc.)” There is no guardrail on life. Nothing between us and the howling abyss of uncertainty except the lies we tell ourselves.

    I’m no different from that family and I ache for them. You’re right, they just shouldn’t have to deal with this.

  4. I’m not even in the best of states of minds to address the Universal aspects of what you are feeling. It’s so…vast. And also so uniquely personal. No one can tell anyone how to feel spiritually, especially at times like these. Besides, my perceptions of Faith have risen and fallen like crests of a wave, sometimes very stormy waves at that.

    This weekend? Stormy. So anger at The Universe and The Way It Unfolds doesn’t make me a good person to give counsel on anything like this. Only to say that yeah…we do tend to shield ourselves from the dark shit as much as we can and hope the bigger bullets keep whizzing past us, but since we each have taken hits while some of us are currently wound-free for the time being the least we can do is help patch each other up during the firefight.

    That’s all I got, and it sucks. 😉

  5. So sad for these parents. Makes me feeling a little bad, because Evie will be receiving an additional therapy and wondering about my son had me a little woes as me. I guess I should be a little less woe is me and a little more thankful for my blessings. So sorry for their losses.

  6. I am so very sorry for this family. I’m sure I can’t even imagine the anguish they must feel. I feel badly for you, too. It is extremely difficult to come to grips with the seeming injustices that life throws at people, especially those with whom we have a strong connection. It certainly does seem like some people get much, much more than their fair share of struggles or tragedies. Sorry it has hit so close to home for you this time. Hang in there.

  7. It is a dangerous world. I’ve been reminded several times recently. Half of a family was wiped out by an out of control teenage driver the other day. They were just out for a daddy and daughters bike ride. Now they’re gone. A dear friend just had her first child by emergency c-section shortly after learning that her husband has stage IV stomach cancer. All of this makes me cling ever tighter to my faith – that God is ultimately in control, that I can’t possibly understand it all, but that He will provide what we need in this dangerous place. Eventually He will make it all right, and I can’t wait to see that day.

  8. I am shuddering right along with you Katy. I can’t say that I’ve experienced the very worst the world has to offer, which in my head would be losing a child, but I agree that no one is safe. Bad things happen because this place can be unfair and imperfect and cruel, and it is not our home. I struggle with the theory that random things happen for nothing at all. There are reasons for everything, and as much as we’d like to have it all figured out, the Whys are usually way beyond our understanding.

  9. Such a terrible thing for any parent to have to go through.

  10. You’re so right- we always think once we go through something awful that at least maybe now we’re exempt from any MORE tragedy or bad luck. I do, anyways. I remember I felt that way after my first miscarriage- now I had had my little sadness and the rest of reproductive life would be uneventful. WRONG. I had no idea how common miscarriage is. Now, even after three, I know that what we’ve experienced is not quite in the “tragedy” category, more in the “sometimes life is sucky” category.
    But to lose two young children? I don’t even know how you function after that, I don’t. I would be so angry. I’m a Christian, I believe in God and that babies live in heaven and all that, and I would still be SO. ANGRY. that such misfortune had found me twice. I have no nice platitudes to send their way, just such great and enormous sympathy. Of course we hope to see our family in heaven again. But… we want them here, now, with us. I can’t imagine my life stretching out before me without my kids in it.

  11. This post gave me major chills. It’s so true, that we just never know. I hope that family feels love and prayers surrounding them, I just cannot imagine…