It's funny how losing a child will change your attitude on a lot of different things. But most striking of all, is the change in my attitude about death and dying.
I made the mistake of watching and reading the news yesterday while trying to hide from Sam (some days with a three-year-old are REALLY long).
First, I saw a story about a Marine, Joe something-or-other, who is home from Iraq for three weeks. While home, he thought it would be a good idea to meet the second grade class who has been writing him letters and sending him care packages. They showed all kinds of warm and fuzzy video of him in the classroom, shaking hands with kids and talking about Lord knows what (what DO you tell a bunch of kids about war anyway?). The anchor came out of the story with the typical, "What a great experience for those kids." Now, my question is this...what is that teacher going to tell those kids if Joe dies? Do they even know that Joe COULD die?
Next, I was watching coverage of the aftermath (now there's a strange word...aftermath...
ETYMOLOGY: after + obsolete math, mowing (from Old English mth; see m- 4 in Indo-European roots) [A second growth or crop in the same season, as of grass after mowing.]
Anyway...I was watching the aftermath of Katrina. There was a story about a church somewhere in Mississippi where "refugees" were living and getting hot meals, etc. The reporter came out of the story, standing in the midst of the wreckage that was once a neighborhood, and told of a ten-year-old boy whose entire immediate family was killed. He now sits in that church praying that someone who knows him will recognize him. I cry for that little boy. How frightened and alone he must feel...
And then I read this article and I began to ponder the phenomenon of grief. I know what I felt when Alex died and I know how hard it was to get out of bed each day. Was I being self-indulgent? Would it be different if I knew my very life depended on my getting out of bed? Would I find the strength to do what needed to be done? How do you manage to function in the middle of something like this AND grieve the loss of your loved ones?
I know there is a lot of devestation due to Katrina...houses and other buildings, lives, oil refineries. But there is another looming disaster there...where the effects will be felt for months and years to come. These people will all have tales of horror that will make other shrink back and run away. They will understand what it is like to be told, "Pick up the pieces and move on." I'm afraid they will also be treated with our typical American lack of understanding that fails to recognize the humanity involved in these sorts of tragedies. These people will be broken for quite some time. And while we concentrate right now on safety and security, we darn sure better address the human element or we're going to have a bigger mess than any storm could physically create.
Those who read my blog regularly know that I have my issues with God. But I don't think it will hurt anything to send up a prayer for all of these people. If it doesn't do anything, they're no worse off than they were before, right?