Friday, 12 April 2013

In Times of Tragedy

I haven't written in a while, as I was trying to figure out what I wanted to say.  I often write of the misgivings of life, the bumps, I call them, with humour and hopefully with at least a tiny bit of insight.  As we all know, life such as it is, is bumpy.  Sometimes these bumps are just bumps.  We have petty family disagreements.  Who gets the car?  "Who's turn is it to...".  Those feeling unfairly put upon, or invisible or denied.   We have bumps during our days, cranky clients and crashing computers which throw a wrench in our plans.  We have mechanical mishaps, fuses that blow and flooded basements.  These things can be frustrating and at times, are a bigger burden than, perhaps, they should be.  However,  it means that at this given time, these are the  bumps that present themselves and from which we learn.  When these bumps are the sole concern, we should, but often don't, consider ourselves blessed that they are the extent of our burden at that moment.

Then there are the hurdles.  These are the life events where everything stops.  Busy work schedules are completely abandoned.  Travel plans are cancelled.  Family comes to be together and friends try to offer support.  Such is the sadness of illness and death.

As a supportive community of family and friends, we become aware of a tragic loss and we launch.  There are those who try to find the right words.  There are those who realize there are no right words.  We offer help "let me know what I can do", because we honestly don't know how to ease suffering without intruding and over-stepping.  My week has been such.  I watched from afar as my dear friends' sister suffered a short and terrible illness and she died, 1 week ago.  She had the blessing of a large family by her side. including a little girl with squeaky shoes and her second, yet, unborn, granddaughter, kicking her hand.  I have watched this family grieve, as they, unfortunately  have many times this year.  Another life has ended and to say "unfairly", just doesn't touch it. A young woman with a life that was too short.

It is at these times, that we, of significant age. can look back.  At this point, it is unlikely that we have been blessed with lives that are yet untouched by tragedy.  We have been the ones who have looked to others  for support.  We are those who were on the receiving end of other's well-intentioned attempts to comfort and at the receiving end of the kindness of friends and strangers.

Now this meandering brings me to my point.  My dear friends' sister was one of the many people who we recall stepping up during my family's dark days.  There were meals.  There were prayers and their were hugs. What I recall specifically was my thankfulness for the times she showed up at our door, unsolicited, and took our children to her happy home.  She gave my child a break from the solemn house in which she  was, more or less, trapped.  I remember her for this.  In fact I will never forget her for this.  She had a unique ability to make each child feel that they were the one and only child that she loved.

So I try awkwardly to support my dear friends by a strong shoulder on which to cry and to attempt to do  the practical things that might make this time at least a little bit less complicated.  As is my inclination, the only thought in my head is "what can I bake"?

 I am now coming to realize that any and all gestures are wonderful.  These things truly help.  However, what I think families need to know in times of tragedy are those things I cannot bake.  They need to know what we loved about their sister, their wife, their mother,their aunt and their friend.  They need to know the stories of her kindness to everyone and especially to all the children who were blessed to know her.  As it was so eloquently put by my friend, of his sister," she was a mother to so many", including my Bridget.  I think the family needs to know the things we remember.  Things we will never forget.  Families need the pleasure of  the stories. They should have the blessing of our memories with hopes that they will be comforted in some way, by the timeless ways in which so many of us were touched by her  May these memories make them smile when they tell the children, whose lives she was yet to touch, just the sort of kindness that was Lorie's style.

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