Thursday, August 21, 2008

What are Blessings?

I meant this to be a celebration of Jake's starting 7th grade and making it through each school day with at least some energy. Also, the fact that he has only 7 weeks left of treatment, and two of those weeks he'll have off. So 3 more overnight stays and 2 more clinic visits--that's it!

But then life happens. And so does death.

This morning, the 4-year-old son of our stake Young Women's president was hit and killed by an unlicensed teenage driver. The mother was there--she and her baby had walked down to the bus stop to send an older brother to school. The bus pulled away, Cooper started to cross the street on his bike, and a car turned and ran him over in front of his mother. He was life-flighted to Primary Children's where he died.

I was in the midst of an online discussion about the nature of blessings when my husband called with the news. I've spent a lot of time this year thinking about blessings and trials. Here's some of what I wrote:

I've pondered this thread all month and come to only one conclusion--that I alone can decide what's a blessing for me. Troubles and trials might well be blessings--but I really don't want someone else telling me so. And how does it help to tell, say, Meadowbee, "I believe Jordan's death is a blessing"?

That's what has been on my mind while thinking of this thread. Me and Meadowbee. Jacob and Jordan.

Jacob and Jordan were diagnosed with the same cancer 1 week apart. Almost 8 months later and Jacob has clean scans, 7 weeks left of treatment, and he started 7th grade this week.

Jordan is gone.

Maybe there's something wrong with me, but I never seem to ponder "Why me?" or "Why us?" when bad things happen--I certainly didn't spend any time on that when Jake was diagnosed. But I invariably ask "Why me?" and "Why us?" when good things happen. Why is Jacob doing so well when Jordan is gone? Why has Jacob been given the blessing (and I do think it's a blessing) of enduring treatment so well with so few side effects? I know it's not due to my greater faith or obedience--I've met Meadowbee, and she beats me in both categories by a mile.

Here's what I've decided, the lesson of blessings according to Bluestocking: Good or bad, things happen. What matters is what I do next.

I have a very wise neighbor, Aaron, who lost his mother to cancer when he was young. He told me the following: "In my experience, those who pass through these things come out wiser and better. But that doesn't mean it hurts any less while you're doing it."

I would not want to give up what I have learned and who I have become this year. But if I could make it so Jake never had cancer, I'd do it in a heartbeat. Mothers are funny like that.

It seems to me that those who pass through wrenching trials can go one of two ways. It can isolate you. I've seen this with some of the parents on the rhabdo list--they shut out their friends who lead "luckier" lives and insist that only those going through the same thing can understand them and they have no patience for anything less.

Or it can open you up, leaving your heart and spirit so open that you feel all manner of suffering and pain with compassion. It hurts. But I wouldn't trade it for isolation. "Mourning with those who mourn"--I have a new understanding of that phrase now.

And so tonight I mourn for the Mardesich family--for Cooper's parents and his three older brothers whose lives changed in an instant. If you have a minute, pray for them and for all who mourn in one way or another tonight.

1 comment:

Katydid said...

You have gained so much wisdom. (You were probably always wise.) Thanks for pointing the direction of my focus as a parent. Beautiful thoughts.