“All deaths were accidental, or none was, for disease was just as random an accident as injury, and all die. None died prematurely, for death battened on only the living, and all of those, at any age.
“It was all the same and predictable except in detail, whether a heart collapsed and seized in an old woman, or a runaway buggy crushed a growing boy: the people took the boy’s death harder, for they longed to have him with them longer, and to see him grown and fruitful. They were not ready for him to die, but they knew for a fact that death was ready. Death was ready to take people, of any size, always, and so was the broad earth ready to receive them. A child’s death was a heartbreak–but it was no outrage, no freak, nothing not in the contract, and not really early, just soon.”
(from The Living, by Annie Dillard)
I woke up Sunday morning to a Facebook post sharing that the baby daughter of an acquaintance had died Saturday night. She was only about 4 months old, I think. Her mama and daddy are both active duty Navy, which is how we know them. Grief for this tiny life, seemingly extinguished too early, was overwhelming all day Sunday. In church, I rocked and remembered their names. And I remembered the other children I know and have known who struggle so valiantly. Why do some live and others die? Annie’s words rang out in the confusion, “not really early, just soon.”
What really makes me crazy is the need to keep living, keep going, when I’m overwhelmed by the feeling that things are falling apart. How can I sit still and type nonsense when a child is gone and parents are empty? How can I focus on work that feels meaningless and continue to eat regular meals when, at any moment, grief will rip through the world again?
Where is Jesus in this painful, beautiful, bittersweet, piercingly captivating life that we are caught up in? Where are You? I know that if we could just catch hold of the hem of your clothing, we would be healed (Mk 5:28). And healing is what we so desperately need. Maybe not healed from the brokenness, but within it, because of it. Healing is what I need.
I want so much to figure things out. I want to know “how” to live well in what feels like chaos. But You aren’t giving me any how. (And I hate this, it infuriates me, but I sense You are holding on to me even when I’m wrestling with a question You don’t seem inclined to answer). The only how is to love and keep loving even when I weep over a child I never knew. And to keep living faithful to you, even in ridiculous jobs. Maybe the healing is already here in the brokenness. That would be so like You, I think, to hide Yourself here in the middle of our mess.