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.