you'll have to bear with me on this post. i've never been eloquent or good with expressing my thoughts in words, so this might be a bit lengthy and jumbled.
most of my friends and family who read our blog already know this, but some don't... just over two weeks ago i received an email from a good friend in my ward. she and her husband had to say goodbye to their 19 month old son, their only child, early that morning. their sweet, little cooper. i had just seen him the week before at mcdonalds, tugging on his mommy's arm while she was chating with me and a couple other friends. so precious, so young, so hilarious, so cute, so vital and alive. then he got sick and in less than 24 hours he was gone. just like that. so shocking. i spent much of the day in tears grieving the loss of this precious little soul. i especially felt and still feel overwhelming sadness for my dear friends and the rough road ahead of them... they have to spend the rest of their lives on this earth without their son.
then later that same day another friend from my ward, one of my best friends, gave birth to her third child, her first girl. such happiness! such joy! one precious mortal life ends and another begins. how can a person have all these intense feelings in one day? i almost felt like i was going to explode. i bet many of you who know these same people had similar feelings.
and another experience of contrasts... a different friend in my ward just gave birth a few days ago to a baby girl with anencephaly... the back of her skull and part of her brain are missing. my friend found out early in her pregnancy that this was the case and she and her husband were told that their baby girl would likely die in-utero or during birth. there was a possibility she would survive birth and live for minutes, hours, maybe days, but not much longer. she and her husband and their 2 year old son have waited for many months, with heavy hearts i'm sure, for their baby girl to come into the world, knowing they might not even get to see her as a living, breathing being. and now she is here. baby corinne. and by some miracle and grace of god she has survived. my friends have been able to hold their sweet baby girl. kiss her, smile at her, enjoy her, LOVE her. what a wonderful thing a new baby is! a new member of your own, little family. someone given to you by heavenly father to look after and serve and love. but only too soon, they will have to say goodbye to her. i can only imagine the myriad of feelings that they are experiencing right now, but i would imagine that they are experiencing utter happiness mixed with intense sorrow and grief. but doesn't the bitterness make the joy that much sweeter? i'd be willing to bet my friend jen wouldn't trade this time with her corinne, hard as it may be, for anything in the world.
but that doesn't make it any easier, does it?
amidst all these thoughts i've had running through my head, i went back and read some of the archives from my friend molly's blog. molly and her husband vic lost their only child lucy to a tragic accident about a year and a half ago. a blog post she wrote about three months after lucy's death just absolutely sang out to me. she was talking with a friend, who had also lost a child, about the depth and understanding they had gained of life because of the tragedies they had both experienced. she then quoted a blog post from another friend which reads:
"A recent essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education made the following point (ht: Andrew Sullivan):
I for one am afraid that American culture's overemphasis on happiness at the expense of sadness might be dangerous, a wanton forgetting of an essential part of a full life. I further am concerned that to desire only happiness in a world undoubtedly tragic is to become inauthentic, to settle for unrealistic abstractions that ignore concrete situations. I am finally fearful of our society's efforts to expunge melancholia. Without the agitations of the soul, would all of our magnificently yearning towers topple? Would our heart-torn symphonies cease?
This is something I've been thinking about for a long time. Obviously, feeling happy is a good thing, but what about feeling sad? One of the most interesting parts of Mormonism, for me, is its fundamentally tragic view, not only of life, but also of the afterlife. Good and evil, happiness and sorrow, must always exist together, because there is a necessary "opposition in all things." Even God cannot reconcile the competing contradictions and thus, in Mormon scripture, we find a "weeping" God. God is love, but loving means caring, and caring means as much sorrow as happiness. It seems to me that Mormonism does not promise so much a life that is happy, but a life that is full; not a pleasant life, but a rich life; not an existence of unending bliss, but of eternal creation. And creation is often born out of sorrow, like a heart-torn symphony.
So, next time you are sad, be happy that you are sad. A life without sadness is not a divine life. It is not even a human life. It is a life without love."
isn't that the coolest perspective?!
but that STILL doesn't make it any easier, does it?
why heavenly father? why my dear god must i, and those i know and love, and those i don't know, and the whole world experience such pain and grief? such overwhelming sadness? i have experienced some of my own sorrow in this life with the passing of my brother joel 13 years ago. i have also keenly felt the sadness of others. when i met my friend kristen and we cried about the loss of both of our brothers. when molly lost her sweet lucy. when my friend emily lost her husband, john, the love of her life a few months ago. when jen and eric learned that their baby girl couldn't stay with them for long on this earth. when lindsay and patrick lost their silly and cute little cooper. and death is not the only time grief is felt. loved ones who have lost jobs or are unable to find employment. grievous sin that has changed the lives of loved ones forever. the inability of friends to conceive a child... they want it so badly i'm sure they can barely breathe. friends who become ill or have cancer. beloved family members who fall away from the gospel. friends who have a precious child with special needs. the list goes on doesn't it?
but i know the answer to that question... the answer to why we must experience overwhelming sadness. the answer is BECAUSE WE MUST. we knew in the premortal existence that we would experience great sorrow and trial on this earth. not only that, but we were ready to welcome it! can't you just imagine us all up there with heavenly father and jesus christ, just chomping at the bit to come down to this earth to experience it all? ...pain, joy, sorrow, pleasure, grief, laughter, guilt, health, sickness. "bring it on!" we cried. without all these experiences on this earth, we can't become like god. in this world we are put through the refiners fire so that we may, line upon line and precept upon precept, become what only god knows we can be.
and at the heart of it, at the center of it all is our brother jesus christ. our savior and redeemer. who suffered in the garden of gethsemane, hung and died on the cross and then was resurrected and lives today. he suffered every pain, sadness, loss, and even every happiness and joy of every human being that has ever walked and will ever walk this earth, so that he might ease our burden and make it possible for us to become perfected and return to our heavenly father with our families someday. even then we will not be free from sorrow... god surely is not, is he? but when we return to heaven and are exalted, we will know joy in way we cannot possibly imagine at this point in our lives.
oh how grateful i am for my amazing, strong parents and my beautiful, hilarious sisters and my smart, funny brother-in-law and my darling, crazy nephews.
and for ben's side of the family. those insanely wonderful and fun people who i am now connected with forever.
and for this funny kiddo:
and this sweet dude:
and this blue-eyed angel:
and especially for this handsome man:
this is life. and oh how truly awesome it is. in every sense of the word.