Tag Archives: mourning

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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Are We Listening to Steve Dodd?

The recent death of Steve Dodd has saddened me. He lived two houses down from me for much of elementary and high school. I remember playing after school with Steve, his brother Robin, and Stephen Wright. We jumped on the trampoline, wrestled, wondered through the gully between our houses and our school Harold Bishop Elementary.

The innocence of our childhood is a striking contrast to how he died. He was shot in the head Friday, February 27, 2009. He died on March 6. Unfortunately, this in not an isolated tragedy. We have lost many to drugs, alcohol, drunk-driving, and terrible violence.

I have spoken to some of you in depth, about the troubles we face. Some of us have beaten addictions to cocaine, crack, crystal meth, alcoholism. Some of us have been to jail, others imprison themselves in depression. Some still fight these battles. We are victims of abuse and neglect, and sometimes we abuse and neglect ourselves. And there is always the temptation of violence and revenge.

The volume and intensity of the challenges we face, make me grow tired of the baby-boom generation claiming that only they have the solutions to the problems they never faced. There were no gangs at their schools. No AIDS, crack, or meth. The relative cost of a home today is 5-10 times higher than it was when our parents were our age, and they didn’t need a $50,000 dollar education to buy one. Yet, our pornstar/rockstar culture demands that we live a life of riches and reckless abandon.

With all these challenges facing our generation, are we listening to what Steve Dodd says to us in his absence? Are we listening to the memory of Johan Vanloo? Are we listening to those around us that we have lost?

If we listened, we would hear them ask, “When we draw a line between courage and fear, love and hate, peace or war, on what side shall we stand if we are to be happy?” I feel great love for those that leave such a gift for us.

Our lives are difficult. As someone who has lost many battles to many demons, I pledge to not judge you for your faults, since I share many of them with you. Whatever challenges you face, know that I am here to listen, and to help in any way I can.  thequantumbuddha@hotmail.com

The service will be on Friday, March 13 at 2:00 p.m. at Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, 10460 – 139th Street, Surrey, BC.

Leave your thoughts and messages for Steve and the Dodd family here.