We learned this weekend that one of the strongest, fiercest fighters I have every known of had died. And he was only 7.
A colleague’s son, who was born with a heart defect and spent more of his little life in hospitals than out, passed on Saturday. By the age of seven he had fought more battles for his life than any of us could ever dream. Every time he had a surgery, it seemed the universe dealt him another bad hand and he had to fight even harder. And he truly fought. He survived so many things that doctors were sure he wouldn’t, that, in the end, it almost came as a surprise to lose him. But what a fighter!
And through it all, his dad came to work. He taught, he coached, he lived his life. I didn’t know his Mom, but I’m sure she was just as strong as Dad. I know both of them are strong. Will had to get if from somewhere, and with such strong parents in your corner, you would, for certain, come out swinging.
We were getting updates often. I was always shocked to learn what the little man had gone through, what surgery, what transfusion, what other steps had been taken to keep him alive.
And I prayed. We all did. As my husband often says, “You can pray for the best, whatever that is.” Myself, I usually pray for God to hold everyone in the palm of his hand and keep them safe and let them know he is there for them. And for comfort. So since I learned of Will’s death on Saturday, I have been praying for the Kohn family. Please feel free to join me.
I have not been, at least not for the past decade or so, a particularly religious person. My faith, as it were, has been a little shaky. I feel like I believe, but I am not always sure what that means. I know I’d like to believe more than I do. Lately, due to Ed being recruited to sing in the church choir (a long story for another time), I have been a regular at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral. I enjoy the Dean’s sermons. I always find something in them to think about. I even take notes.
Being at Trinity, and meeting the wonderful people there, really helped me after my dad died in July, although I actually didn’t make it to church until December. But even a few months into the grieving process, I found solace there. Sometimes it takes a while after someone dies to leave that initial shock phase and get to the grief and realization stage. Having a support network helps to catch you during those times when you need a little help to stand (or walk, or go to work, or breathe).
When my dad was in the hospital near the end of his life, he was suffering. He couldn’t breathe or talk very well. He would ask in a state of despair, “What did I do to deserve this?” None of us had an answer. I don’t think there was one. And then, less than two weeks later, he was gone.
At these times, people often ask, “Why did God take ________ (fill in the blank)?” Then they often answer in platitudes or some kind of answer that is meant to make others feel better. But, for me, there is no real answer to that question. Death happens. And sometimes it happens to the “wrong” people at the “wrong” time in a terrible way.
I’m not always sure that God has any direct intervention in this department, although I know there are many who would disagree with me.
I think God (or whoever – you can fill in your own spiritual blank here) is keeping an eye on things, but is not allowed to intervene. Maybe he has a jar of miracles on a shelf and rolls a pair of dice to determine if you get one or not. I don’t know. Maybe omnipotence means not acting sometimes.
In the end, we all just have to decide what, or even if, we have some kind of faith. Having faith (in whatever it is you choose to believe in) can help us through the dark times. It gives us something to hold onto and to hope for.
Hedging my bets, I am never sure, exactly, what I believe in. It might be nature, the Universe, God, a Higher Power, Something Bigger Than Me. I don’t really know. I just know that sometimes, as George Michael told us, “You gotta have faith.” It may be the only thing you can have.