Many zip codes away, two parents are signing organ donor forms for their son, age 16.
Friday was innocent, until it wasn’t. Small school football, makes a routine tackle, doesn’t get up. Sirens to the hospital, to hear ER doctors say those no cure words, “brain dead.”
You’ll have to take my word for it, that by my measure, this is a wholesome family, quality left, right, high, low, a fine marriage, raising five boys, following all the right rules, and then, the great JustLikeThat, a finger snap that booms like cannon, and now What Was can never be again…
I have that feeling we’ve all had, when we’re on the outer orbit of some tragedy. Shaken, but not shaken like they are. Torn, but not inside out, like they are. Sad, but not unto despair, like they are.
We want to help, offering our any lil anythings. Somebody checked on the pets, somebody mowed their yard, many brought food, and here I am, a clean document, trying to cook with words, wondering, who has words for this…
November 21, 1864 Dear Madam,
There’s a famous scene in the movie, Saving Private Ryan, where the general reads a letter that President Lincoln wrote to a Mrs. Bixby, who had lost five sons in the Civil War.
“I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.
“I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom.”
In the voice of the actor reading this, it carried a great soothe, made us appreciate Lincoln even more, him writing upon our behalf, how we always feel, when its someone else’s great loss, “…how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine…”
The Sermon Of The Lawnmower
Back up a few decades, this kind of tragedy, I’d near spit in the air, at God. “Are You there? Are You on the job? Can You not see what is obvious to me? Do You care? This isn’t how its supposed to be!!!”
All that “childlike faith” stuff, that sounds fine when your little butt fits in the kiddie chairs, but it’s a tough hold in the Land of Grownups. I wouldn’t recommend my path to an enemy, but it’s the one I took, a great wandering, with great consequences, but here I am, decades later, with my own custom faith, a hot mess of patches, welds and riggin’, but it fits like armor and measures like treasure.
I had to hit the wall, to believe there was a wall. I had to get broken small, to get rebuilt large. I had to depend upon me to realize that I wasn’t enough to depend upon.
I read thick books, by big thinkers, to little effect. I can “know” unseen things, like the Law of Gravity, but not so with meaning-of-life stuff. Sooner or later, no matter how far you go, no matter your direction, you end up at a cliff, and what you decide there, say Hello to it, ‘cause that’s your faith.
Meanwhile… God used everyday moments like a One-to-one university.
One class occurred atop a Snapper riding mower. The enjoyable first mowing of spring, a signal that winter is behind, good weather is ahead – I do love that fresh cut grass smell – and then it hit me, ‘I guess the grass sees it differently.’
What’s it like, down there, when grass hears the mower crank? What’s it like as the deck nears? What if the fresh cut smell is to grass what the blood and gunpowder smell of a battleground is to people?
Sitting atop the mower I realized that I was in the God Spot. Elsewhere in life, all day of any given day, I’m the blade of grass. How great, the difference in view, and point of view!
With that realization, came the acceptance, That’s Just The Way It Is. Even if I grew from blade of grass to mighty tree, I still couldn’t see the forest. If I was as big as a state, I still couldn’t see the entire country, if I was as big as a continent I could never see the size of Earth.
I went from shaking my fist at God to a feels-right place where futility meets humility meets divinity. I accept my size, my place, my limits, my understanding. Which still leaves…
Another piece of my faith is something I call Proof By Hunger. In the same way that I breathe deeply because I’m hungry for unseen air, I trust the hunger for other unseens. I cannot see love, hope, fairness, but I hunger for them; my faith says They’re Out There, to be found.
That I hunger for life to have meaning, is by act of faith, proof that life does have meaning. I hunger that this-can’t-be-all-there-is. I hunger for at least one thing to be Perfect, and let that be God. I hunger for answers, which means they’re out there. I hunger for good, for right, for level, for happy endings.
I can accept that I won’t have answers, but still believe that the hunger of every Why is proof that an answer exists.
Was Has Went
What words are there for this family? Poof.
That used-to-be, that Was, it’s Went. Each pain has its own fingerprint. Each healing has its own fingerprint. For the survivors, there’s only On From Here, wherever Here is, however long Here lasts.
Instead of thoughts ‘n prayers, all I have to offer is my faith, based on my inner hunger, that God is required to not just be better than us, but perfect, that right and square and fair must happen, if not now, then later, if not now known, then later revealed.
With death-too-soon, I hunger that there’s a fair offset, that in the losing there is a gain, that I will not know until I too die.
This is their family 9/11. It is worthy of pause, pain, solemn respect.
Right now the focus is on loss, but I share the same hunger the Apostle Paul had, that all things work together for good, to them that love the Lord.
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In tragedy may we look UP instead of only AT
The writing of this Uncle P’s Bedtime Stories feels… message in a bottle… bread upon the waters… written to whom is up to Him, and them…
Uncle P can be reached at email@example.com.