Monday, November 30, 2009

A Reflection on the Fragility of Life, part...?

It seems like yesterday, but in fact, it's almost two years ago since I wrote this post, after the sudden death of the son of a friend of mine in a tragic accident.

Tonight, again, I must reflect on how ephemeral, how short, and how...unfair? can be. Tonight, Mighty Maddy will come to the end of her year-long fight with leukemia. When, exactly, the end will come is not known, but during the course of this evening, it almost certainly will come, when the last of her life support is disconnected. Maddy is 8 years old...

As I sit here, in the comfort of my home, while my three children sleep upstairs, all healthy, I cannot fathom what it must be like to know that your child is going to die...not some day, not next year or in fifty years, but most likely tonight...or certainly tomorrow. How do you say goodbye? How do you make the terrible decision that the time has passed when perhaps there is yet more that can be done to save her, that the time has come to make the decision to let her go, to manage her pain, so that her passing will be as painless and simple as possible? How can you let go, believing, though you may, though you must, that her journey is not yet finished, but that she is moving on to another world, a better world? How, as a parent, can you cope with the desparate pain that you must let your baby make that journey into the unknown alone?

For oh so many reasons, as I have grown older, my faith in the God that I was raised to believe in has ...morphed...faded...transformed... In the days that followed 9/11, I began to draw a hard line between belief in God, and adherence to religion. I know that we humans need ritual in our lives. It helps us to understand, to grasp, to find comfort, and to find constancy, in all the terrible reality that life carries with it. But, as 9/11 so cruelly taught, religion is of man, and as with all things made by man, man can use it to do terrible things to his fellow human beings in the name of what he "believes."

The psychologist, Carl Jung, was asked once in an interview if he believed in God. His answer (my paraphrasal, anyway) was that he did not need to believe in God, because he knew that God existed. Somewhere, somehow, deep within myself, I, too, know that God least I cannot reconcile any understanding of my world if it did not, at some point, begin! What happens after I've breathed my last, I do not know... but I must believe that God did not create this life as a dress rehearsal.

Tonight, Oh Lord, from the depths of my soul, I invoke your love and your mercy. Carry Maddy safely to you, and bring comfort to her family and friends, who must endure this terrible, unexplainable loss...

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