Liam and the Lion

Below is a copy of an e-maill I sent to my sister Wendy while she was dealing with the loss of her baby–her second baby. I asked her if I could post it and share my thoughts on life with loss.

Wendy’s e-mail began:

We find ourselves feeling unbearable sadness, disbelief, and we long for answers as to why we have had to deal with so much grief this past year. We have begun to question our faith and we question, “why us?” and wonder if there is a God, how he can give healthy babies to so many people that don’t even want them, and yet take two babies from us, such deserving people, who so desperately want to be parents. We feel cheated, and bitter, and perplexed at how cruel and unfair the world can be. We now pray for strength to get through every new day, and we find ourselves pleading for reassurance from the universe to know that Liam feels our love, your love, and that his spirit is safe, happy and in a better place.”

I hope this can be of assistance to all you:

Wendy, Chad, and family:

I am sorry for your loss.  You have helped me with my own losses in life and I would like to give back to you, but I am unsure what I can possibly say or do.  The only thing that comes to mind, is from a book that you once lent me.

“Hold on.”

When things are beyond comprehension and completely overwhelming–hold on.  Thank you both for this wisdom.  I hope it helps you as it helped me.  I believe Winston Churchill said something similar and even more insightful:

“If you are going through hell–keep going.”

As for your faith, I can only offer you answers to your questions that will seem completely inadequate, and not like an answer at all, as questions for G_d can only be answered by G_d.

I can tell you about two people that have asked the same questions and about the answers that were given to them in a way that ceased all doubt as to whether there is a loving force we call G_d that makes everything possible.

Once, I sat in a park to escape from what was left of the life that was collapsing around me.  My mind was spinning in circles, my body tense, and my heart empty.  Reflecting on how people treat each other, I watched some birds attacking a smaller bird and asked “Why?  Why does the world have to be this way?  Why the violence, death, destruction and pure evil all around me?  Why?  Why does this happen to me?”

In that instant, the answer came.  I was suddenly calm–even blissful.  Everything around me brightened, and it was like seeing everything with greater clarity than if I examined each square inch under a microscope.  It was as if time stopped.  My thoughts silenced in anticipation of an answer that was without words or sound, yet the loudest thought to ever enter my mind–I new immediately that it did not come from me.  The closest English to the deep understanding that I received whole, is: “This is the way things are.”

But it was much more than that.  I knew in that instant, that the world is a balance, where one day the lion goes hungry and the antelope eats, while the next day the lion eats and the antelope dies.  I knew that the only way our universe can exist and sustain itself is through competition–a competition we are bound to lose from time to time–and always in the end.  What I saw was the world as it really is–not beautiful despite the pain–just beautiful.  I am thankful for all the hurt that allowed me to see the world for the first time.

I once met a professor of philosophy that had a cushy job that others would kill for.  She was Jewish, but not religious, yet she gave up her career to become a Rabbi.  Of course, I needed to ask her, “Why?”

She was living and working in North Carolina.  After one of the many intense hurricanes, that claimed many lives, she asked, “Why?  Why would G_d let this happen?”  The answer she received was, “This is the way things are.”  The experience was profound enough that she quit her job and devoted her life to G_d by going back to school and becoming a Rabbi.  Knowing that someone else had the same experience as me has deepened my faith considerably.

The universe is far too complex for us to ever really know the specifics of why a particular tragedy occurs, but hopefully, in time, you will understand some of the answers to your questions about life.  Until then, my words are a poor substitute.  Just know that you are loved and blessed, even though you will again go hungry while the lion licks his lips, and sometimes the blood will be yours, just remember, to witness such a thing means that G_d has chosen to bless you with yet another day.

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One response to “Liam and the Lion

  1. That was very beautiful. Thanks for sharing. I have a Liam too – he is 7 now – and I try to remember to have gratitude for him every day, he and his big brother. I live rurally now and I have many small bodies buried on my property – some have been very hard deaths for me (esp. a little lamb) but with each burial I sing this little song: Fur and feathers and scales and skin; different without but the same within. Many a body but one the soul; by all creatures are the Gods made whole. I have learned, in this way, that life and death are the deep cycle within which we all live. My heart goes to your sister for her loss.

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