Some years it seems that the circle of family and friends that make up our world just flourishes. Not without bumps, not without struggles, but manageable ones and overall there are really good years.
This year though it seems to be one heartbreak after another. So many that I cannot count it on both hands anymore. Miscarriages, illness, cancer, a baby born still, tragic accidents; it seems death and illness have just surrounded our little group, many of whom don't know each other, though we're all connected in one way or another.
Watching this, sometimes from afar and sometimes up close, it hits close to home, you know? These families that have been impacted almost always mirror our own. I vacillate between holding my breath as surely it will be our turn soon and breathing secret words of thankfulness that it has not been so far.
I don't believe that we are chosen for heartbreak that some presence in the universe, divine or otherwise, picks one person and not another.
'Why' though seems to be a function of grief. I can't help but ask, even if I know there's no answer - and if there were it would be Wholly Unacceptable. In our humanity and divinity we have a need to find meaning, to gain perspective and see our lives as much bigger than they feel at the moment. My grandmother, believing in reincarnation, believes that our immortal souls come here to learn. And when our lessons have been learned our time is up and we return to wherever until we find that there is something else to learn. My dad and I were talking a few months ago about how comforting this belief can be. It's that perspective thing. That this existence is bigger than we are experiencing it right now. Please, please, please don't let this be Meaningless.
And yet, these are lessons I personally do not want to learn. Thank you very much and kindly. I doubt that my friends do either. Afterwards, in 80 years, we may feel differently, but I don't know how that will look. I think the most we may be thankful for is having been here to experience it. To be looking back on it instead of being in the midst of it, though I know no one is wishing their days away these days. These 'opportunities for growth' are burdensome.
In these periods of pain we also get the chance to accept kindnesses and grace from people we previously didn't know. To cultivate a community that didn't exist a year or month ago. To hone our gratefulness for this very day. This morning I am grateful for the dishes I have to do, a cranky toddler, the sound someone watching Batman, and the windows being open. This is the kind of mundane my breaking heart can handle.
Our most recent friends in need are Molly and Kendrick. We all went to college together. We were in each other's weddings. Molly was pregnant with her son Carter about 6 months before I was pregnant with Guthrie. Their daughter, Izzy was born a couple of years later. They are a beautiful family. I count them among my dearest friends even though we have not seen each other in years.
About 6 months ago, 2 days before Christmas, Izzy was diagnosed with a neuroblastoma. It was in her abdomen; they were able to take all of it out. Two weeks ago she went in for her 6 month check up and they found that it had returned. With an absolute vengeance. Surrounding her enlarged kidney, in her lymph nodes and bones. Tomorrow they start a treatment that will take at least 15 months to complete. The treatment plan is horrendous and hopefully effective. I do not know how Kendrick and Molly are even finding the strength to breathe right now. Except isn't that what you do as parents? You just do it?
Several types of opportunities to give to this family are in the works, but for now I'd ask you to just keep them on your heart. Pray, meditate, send strength and support. Molly has started a blog called Izzystory.
Say what you will about technology and social media, but the outpouring of love and kindness that all of our friends have received via Facebook, blogs, Twitter, and email has been amazing. Word has been spread so quickly and widely when someone experiences a tragedy or struggle. The ever-widening net of our community might be the pinprick of good in all of this, ever so slight as it is.