Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it. -Helen Keller
Today is Fat Tuesday, a traditional day for using up all our good food to start off the season of Lent. We're not big on fasting...but we are big on the feasting. With everything that is going on with my dad, it's a good time to be introspective/thoughtful, and focus on the upcoming spring Easter.
Yesterday wasn't just Fat Tuesday, but it was the anniversary of the death of my friend Diana's daughter. Her story is amazing, and I know I've shared it time and time again, but I have to say again, how much I learned. I faced death very young, both of my stepparents died of cancer when I was young. And with both, I was treated so very disrespectfully. It was unintentional, I know. With neither one, was I involved with their care. I never was educated as to why this was happening or even WHAT was happening. In fact, when my stepmother died, we didn't even KNOW about it until my dad yelled at me for singing a song on the long drive to Yukon for the funeral. When my stepdad died, all I knew was that he was sick enough to be in bed, throwing up blood for months on end. Did no one ever think of how that would affect my brother and I?
I think it's hard for adults, because they are so unsure of the philosophy of death anyway, to share their uncertainties with children. Since our society so underestimates the wisdom and power of the child, certainly they underestimate a child's capability to deal with the unknown. Even at the age of sixteen, when my grandfather was growing ill, I was kept from that knowledge. Again, I did not know he died until a week later, when I was told about the funeral. The same thing happened with my grandmother! The only two grandparents I had, I lost without being able to say goodbye!
What a disconnect we create for our children! We keep them from birth because it's 'messy'. We hide sex because it's nasty. We keep them from death because it's painful. We hide breastfeeding and disabilities and sickness and hate and....so many things that make the spring beautiful. And in the end we create an ideal that people just live forever. We protect children so much from things they don't need to be protected from, from the joys of birth, to the sadness of loss. We take away the sorrow, and lose the perspective of joy.
I like to hope that my children are growing with joy. They have sadness and sorrow as well. They know what it's like to grow past a sister that will never grow older. They've held the bodies of their little lost siblings, and with the example of beautiful, strong, brave people like Diana, I hope that they uncertainty with the knowledge that God has a plan for them, one such as Jeremiah.."For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."