Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A friend of mine died last week….

It was a shock. It was a routine surgery on her knee and, in the middle of the night, a blood clot ended her life.

I was not a close friend, but she was a vibrant person who knew everyone. Her laugh was infectious! I went to the funeral because I needed some closure. “Closure” in the sense that she is really gone.  A bright light is gone. 

She was alive and now she is not. How does that happen? Why? 

Another friend of mine had a stroke several years ago.  Now, she has been diagnosed with breast cancer. 

Another Facebook friend just told her contacts that her brother had a stroke 3 months ago, and he had another one this week.

I had an appointment this week with a therapist, and he told me that one of his other client's has a son who has colon cancer…terminal.

The common denominator is they are young. Like me.

In the 90’s my father died and I got divorced. I was despondent. I great friend sent a book to me:    “When Bad Things Happen to Good People” is a 1978 book by Harold Kushner, a Conservative rabbi. Kushner addresses in the book one of the principal problems of theodicy, "the conundrum of why, if the universe was created and is governed by a God who is of a good and loving nature, there is nonetheless so much suffering and pain in it - essentially, the evidential problem of evil."

I hated that book. It is utter BS. A stupid book.

When bad things happen to good people, it is just life and death. Some people think this is “God’s will” or “God’s plan.” Some think this is fate. Some think nothing at all.

My mother was a devout Catholic. She prayed often. When my strokes happened almost 2 years ago, Mom prayed a lot. Everyone prayed. I prayed.
My recovery surprised everyone including my doctors. 

Mom, on the other hand, simply believed I would get better. In my Mom’s reality, she had a personal relationship with God. Mom prayed to God to spare her little boy. Mom prayed over and over “Please take my life in return and spare my boy.” Me.

Mom was a great healthy specimen. At 79, she walked a lot, did not drink and smoke, etc. Everyone thought that Mom would out live all of us. But, 4 months after my stroke, Mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She died several months later. Thought out those horrible months as she was dying, she often told me that “God” spared me and took her in return. 

I humored Mom even though that quid pro quo – my life in return for her death – was abhorrent to me. It gave her comfort thinking that God spared my life. Now my mother is dead at 80.

For me, I hope that God would not bargain with life and death. I am sure that God helped in my recovery but not because he took the life of my Mom. 

The concept of God has always been the forefront of life and existence. People need God. In ancient times and now, people need the concept of God for comfort, solace, and redemption. I talk to God. I pray for others. I pray for me. I have read many books about God trying to figure out my relationship to God or fate or whatever it “is.”

Soon after my strokes, I “read” an audio-book (I still cannot read because of the strokes) by Eben Alexander III is an American neurosurgeon and the author of the best-selling Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife, in which he describes his 2008 near-death experience and asserts that science can and will determine that heaven really does exist.

It was a great inspirational book. I hope it is true. If what he writes is true, heaven and God do exist in a form we cannot imagine. The concept of death it not frightening at all. Rather, it is part of the journey.

But, the pain and suffering that we have to deal with is horrifying to get to Heaven.  I think of the people I mentioned how are suffering. I think of Mom making a bargain with God.

It is just life, and shitty things happen all of the time. Life and death. 

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