I have been reminded today that grief is no respecter of persons. Grief comes to the rich and the poor, the educated and ignorant, the powerful and the weak, the believer and the atheist, the proud and the humble. Grief even comes to those who are already grieving, which seems so unfair. After Jonah died I had a moment where I thought, well at least this is it, this is my trial. But I know that I am young, and that I love too many people not to grieve again. If only I could trust in the immunizing power of a singular heartache. Unfortunately none of us is immune and we each will have to find our way through extremely difficult days.
This morning my friend Anna-Lee shared this blog about her dear cousin, Lisa King, who lost a son 4 months ago, and last week lost her husband suddenly and unexpectedly. Today I have tried to imagine the feelings of this young mother and her three living boys. It must seem so unfair, even tragic. But after reading her blog I am sure that tragedy is not the right word. It is obvious to me that this family knows what love is and that they have loved and will continue to love each other deeply. It is inspiring.
I have thought about tragedy a lot. When I wrote Jonah's obituary I initially wrote "On September 29, 2011, a beautiful and tragic September morning, Jonah returned to the loving arms of his Heavenly Father." This phrasing did not sit well with me. I wrestled over each word, and I could not leave it this way. Something inside me said this is not a tragedy. Jonah's short life was full, even brimming, with love. Jordan and I love him and each other deeply. Our home life was simple, peaceful, and joyful. Jonah's death was sorrowful. The pain of our separation was intense, but I could not bring myself to say that his death was "tragic."
Neal Maxwell wrote, “The great challenge is to refuse to let the bad things that happen to us do bad things to us. That is the crucial difference between adversity and tragedy.”
In my life I have found that it is tragic to withhold compassion and love. It is tragic to purposefully deceive those who trust you. It is tragic to choose momentary pleasures over lasting joys, and it is tragic to become a victim of life.
I do not want my life to be a tragedy, so I choose to love daily. I choose to get out of bed, and to be kind to my husband. I choose to reach out when I can, and accept help when it comes. I choose to keep trying. I choose to live with hope, with optimism, and with faith.
I have no doubt that the King family will withstand the incredible adversity that has befallen them, and that they will transform their heartache into even greater love. Our lives are not perfect, our circumstances vary, but our choice remains the same. I believe we can choose to experience grief and disappointment with our hearts and souls not only intact, but magnified. I am inspired by the hope of this mother, and by her faith, and I pray that God will bless her with the strength she needs to overcome.
Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way. Victor Frankl