In the last month, I have been reminded time and again of the unspeakable unfairness of life as the grief of others has skirted me, overwhelmingly reminding me of the universe’s limitless capacity to inflict pain on those within it.
It began with JH, initials representing two people. First, a sad man who died alone in his apartment following a lifetime of battling addictions and depression, destroying countless relationships along the way. Second, his grieving son, mourning the loss of a relationship he never had, yet identifying so strongly with his genetic heritage that he began resigning himself to following in his father’s footsteps, slipping increasingly into his own addiction and isolation. Two generations directly impacted by our society’s inability (or unwillingness) to step up and take responsibility for supporting those who need a stronger, more proactive approach than just a paycheque and a handshake. Two generations directly impacted by our inability (or unwillingess) to protect children from growing up in homes where they are hurt instead of loved.
Next, JB. A beautiful and shy two year old boy who loved to sit in the pink fuzzy chair at my workplace’s childcare centre, who mischievously enjoyed pressing the tap on the water cooler until water spilled over the catch tray and onto the carpet, who grinned his widest grin as we spun him around in a tall office chair. His mother had recently finally decided to leave her abusive husband and was just starting to feel that her life had sunnier days ahead when suddenly JB became sick and died in hospital three days later. Just three days for her only son to go from a sniffly nose to a coffin.
Finally, OW. A healthy five year old girl who fell sick just before Christmas, went to sleep on Christmas Day and never woke up. Today, her visitation, with a special request to wear our most colourful, sparkliest clothing. As I approached her mother in her glittery purple dress and frilly headband, we fell into each other’s arms, sobbing. I told her she was beautiful, her most sparkliest self. She sobbed in reply, “I did my best for her.”
Helen Keller once said “Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” It’s true. I am constantly amazed by the overcoming of pain and the strength of those around me, but right now I don’t understand why there has to be so much pain in the world. We are a species that can fly to the moon, that has devised ways to kill millions of people in the blink of an eye, and invented technology that puts the furthest corners of the world within reach of each other. Why aren’t we able to prevent the deaths of our healthy children? Why aren’t we able to protect innocent souls from abuse? Why can’t we commit to helping those struggling with mental health issues? I just don’t understand.