"As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; / [ . . . ] Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: / Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; / Selves -- goes itself; 'myself' it speaks and spells, / Crying 'What I do is me; for that I came'." --Gerard Manley Hopkins

14 May 2005


Tuesday night we came home to find

* that our oldest son and his wife had lost their eagerly anticipated Christmas baby, a second miscarriage.

Wednesday we called our married children to tell them

* that their beloved grandmother is beginning chemo again for the cancer we had willed ourselves to believe was conquered.

During those calls we learned

* that a good friend of our oldest son had died in a motorcycle wreck and he is attending the funeral today;

* that our older daughter’s son, who has a blood disorder, is having to return to the hospital, but the treatment he’s been receiving has ceased to be effective in any significant way, leaving his parents with frustratingly inadequate or frighteningly invasive options they will eventually have to choose among;

* a good friend of our younger daughter’s, after two miscarriages due to a rare genetic disorder, lost a near-term baby to a totally different, also rare, condition.

I am almost relieved that our middle son was not at home; I am not sure I can take in whatever his most recent encounter with death or injury or illness has been.

My younger daughter remarked as we talked that there was no particular reason she “needed” three healthy children while her friend cannot seem to carry a healthy baby to term; she wondered why some of her “good luck” couldn’t have been given to her friend. And while her four-year-old was unaware of this baby, she has been talking excitedly about her aunt and uncle’s for days. And so my daughter tries to explain that some babies are meant to live with Jesus instead of with us.

How to explain death to a four-year-old? How to explain it to a grieving mother, a grieving son, anyone who knows loss?

Today, the brokenness of this world overwhelms me. My words seem too simple and altogether inadequate. At least God has given us others to love and comfort us, I say. They walk past my words, but actions tell me they understand; my daughter, for example, has bought a May birthstone necklace to commemorate the life and death of a child hardly known but deeply beloved, and she will travel across the state to give it as she offers her time and her tears to mourn with her friend.

We cannot make the brokenness less broken, nor make it hurt less, but we can offer what comfort we can because, in the midst of it all, He is still God.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,” Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “who comforts us in all our afflictions, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (II Cor. 1:3-4 ESV).

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted,” Jesus taught the multitude. May His comfort be with us all today and may we find ourselves blessed.


amelia ruth said...

What can I say? I who am consumed by insecurities, and jealousy, and unfounded anger. I who have experienced no real suffering, yet who somehow justify self-pity.

You have put my petty trials into perspective, and I am humbled by reading this post. My heart is heavy for you and your family, and I am praying (though I do not know how to pray) for your comfort in His divine sufficiency.

alaiyo said...

Blessings on you, Amy! This is, as my daughter also said, "just life" -- at times it is just harder to see the lovely parts of it for the broken parts. But then, your prayers and caring are one of the lovely parts, yes?

Cindy said...

I'm so sorry, Beth, sorry and grieved for all the weight that has suddenly dumped itself on your family and the people they love.

I know all your children's grandmothers are precious, but please tell me this isn't your mother beginning chemo.

alaiyo said...

No, it's K's mom. She went through a year of it plus some kind of experimental treatment, and her doctor was really, really positive about the results -- but it has not been long since that ended. So we are thinking the prognosis now is pretty bleak. BUT God is bigger than cancer and if He so desires she will be with us for a long time yet. We can only wait and pray. Thanks! You are a lovely friend.

Fieldfleur said...

So sorry for the flooding that's happening there. Thankful for the island of comfort that each of you find in his arms, now, eventually, when possible. Ah man, this is hard! :(
Take care,

josh said...

I guess to add a little bit of positivity to an otherwise really bad week, I did talk to David late last week and everything was going fine for them...

They say bad things happen in threes -- I was almost waiting (though I didn't know for what) when you called about Grandma. I'm just hoping -- I know if anyone can beat it, she can.

I guess life moves on whether we like what it hands us or not. I'm just glad I wasn't on a ship within site of va beach like I was for her last miscarriage -- at least this time I could take her to the doctor and help out with things around the house. Baby's not old enough to really understand what's going on, but he knows enough to know it's not normal to see his mom hooked up to IV's and such on a hospital bed -- he's been acting up a lot the last few days and I suspect he knows something's wrong even if he can't understand what it is.

alaiyo said...

Hi, Joshua -- Yes, the little one can only see that something isn't right and that he has been deprived for a time of the love of his life. Thank the Lord it's only for a short time, and that you could be available to help both of them through it.

Good to hear all is (was?!) well with your brother -- hope to catch them at home tonight.

Blessings to you and yours --


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