A Few Words on Hardship and Loss

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I would to like to say a few words here about hardship and loss.

I have a dear friend who once went through something no human being should ever have to. The death of a parent or a sibling or a friend may be inevitable if one lives long enough, but the death of a young one is unconscionable.

We don’t ask to be put on this earth. And yet there we arrive, naked and crying, and spending the next decades trying to make the best of it, and the best of us try to make the best of it for those around us.

The role of a parent is to try to make the best of it for your child. To have the best things, the best life, the best of everything life has to offer.

And yet it seems some times God and Fate appear to interfere with our plans. And the child is taken from us. Taken to heaven, to be sure, to be at the right hand of God and to eternal salvation, but taken nonetheless.

As Neil Young said “One more kid who will never go school, never get to fall in love, never get to be cool.”

It happens far too frequently amongst the poor and amongst the third world populace. But whenever it happens it is probably the cruellest thing that can happen.

A child doesn’t make bad lifestyle choices. A child doesn’t abuse their body. A child doesn’t know enough to be bent on self-destruction, at least not the way adults can be.

A child exists for one purpose for her/his self- to grow. And one purpose for those around her/him- to be given the best circumstances to help with that growth.

And yet that purpose, as simple as it is, is sometimes not enough. And so a child must fight against a hostile world- of predators, child abuse, abusive governments and political situations (as in the case in Nigeria lately), even against crazed gunmen in Connecticut, in the Amish hills of PA and in Columbine.

And a child must fight against fate. Against coming down with a fatal affliction that seems to come out of nowhere.

We can rationalize death for adults- especially for older ones who have live a full life. We can’t ever rationalize the death of a young one.

And yet- though it may be hard to rationalize, it turns out that it is even more difficult to rationalize our reaction to such a death.

A person could become bitter, mean, selfish, angry, even anti-social and/or violent.

Yet so often I have seen it where people who have met with the most tragedy and heartbreak have also been the most loving, forgiving, and giving people I have ever known.

I am not sure why that is- but I never met a selfish person who had the least reason to be selfish, though I’m sure they thought they did. I have met a lot of unselfish people who have endured unspeakable horrors and still manage to love and appreciate those around them, and to appreciate life itself.

I’ll close with a Dylan Thomas poem that hopes for the end of death some day. Not something I think most should hope for, but a challenging though nonetheless.

And as you go about your daily lives and move from seemingly one annoyance to another, my hope is that you’ll keep those in mind who have endured much greater hardship than you. Not that we all don’t endure such hardships- but one of the great things about humans is our ability to share in our grief, somehow lessening that grief for others involved in it.

It is something that is common only to our species, I believe. No other species is able to make others of its kind feel less pained by sharing in that pain.

So please spare a thought for my dear friend, and for anyone who has ever been in that situation. And remember, caring is that only thing that doesn’t diminish once it is given- it only gets stronger.
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And Death Shall Have No Dominion
BY DYLAN THOMAS
And death shall have no dominion.
Dead men naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
And the unicorn evils run them through;
Split all ends up they shan’t crack;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
No more may gulls cry at their ears
Or waves break loud on the seashores;
Where blew a flower may a flower no more
Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
Though they be mad and dead as nails,
Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
And death shall have no dominion.

 

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