Thursday, August 17, 2006


My wife had one of her favorite aunts (Susan) die just a couple of days ago from breast cancer. Vicious disease, really. My thoughts are prayers are with Susan's husband, children, family, and friends.

Sadly, I cannot claim to have known Susan that well. But I can see the pain in my wife's face, hear the sadness in her voice as she tells some of her favorite stories from family reunions, and know that the world is lessened without Susan's presence.

There's that helpless feeling that comes across when someone you love is in great pain. There's not much that can be said other than "I'm so sorry for your loss" or "just tell me if there's anything I can do." And in the case of my wife, I could simply hold her until the tears stopped.

I remember when my father died about a year and a half ago now that I was thinking how little there is to say in the face of death. And yet how much it meant to be able to reach out to all those I love, to just hear their voices, to know that they were with me amidst the loss. To know that I was not alone.

Reflecting on things now, we all seem so fragile. Some small thing can happen that ends our lives, and it all just seems so soon, so random and arbitrary. And yet in our fragile hold on life, we can be strengthened by our connections to each other. We were created to be social creatures, and in accepting that need we are strengthened. Which, paradoxically, requires the willingness to be vulnerable, to be genuine. Banding together with our shattered hearts, we find strength, compassion, and even hope.

How much better life would be, I think, if we could huddle together in our brokenness more often.

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