I went to a viewing at a funeral home yesterday. I don't like viewings. I think they are one of the most marvelously awkward situations a person can be put in. But I think it's necessary and right to go and talk to people when bad things happen. So I go.
The person in question yesterday is not someone I knew well at all. She is related (in a complicated way which is not pertinent to my story) to a man who is my uncle by marriage. She's not much younger than me, and I remember that as a child we would play often when I was at my aunt and uncle's house. I've seen her a handful of times in the past few years. She met Tiny Man at a family party, and also came to the funeral home and funeral when we said goodbye to him.
What strikes me and makes me feel this loss so deeply is how caring and how kind she was to me and to Tiny Man. The things she said to me after the funeral, in the few seconds I said hello to her, were among the most comforting and kindest things I heard that day. I was so very touched by her words. I was left with the impression that I had met few people in this world as caring as her. I was surprised not because I didn't think she had it in her, but because I hadn't seen her in so long; didn't know her very well at all, and here she was crying with me over my son. It stuck with me.
Her partner was diagnosed with a fatal illness earlier this year, and it is my understanding that she may not see the new year. They have a son, six years old, who will lose both parents to illness...sudden illness....in a short amount of time.
I am asking the obvious question: why?
I don't know why this is hitting me so hard, but I cannot stop thinking about the unpredictability of life, the way that it doesn't work out the way it's supposed to, and the way that it can be unfair. One of the things I hate about the holidays is that they can, and often do, bring out the worst in people. Stress, trying to live up to expectations we set for ourselves, dealing with family who we may not like: it can make someone crazy. You all know what I mean...you see it all the time in the woman who yells at the store clerk for no reason. The person who snips at you in line. Anyway....in the past few months I have seen and heard my share of drama. Some had to do with the holidays, some is just people who are selfish, egocentric, rude and classless. Do I think that they deserve to be the ones touched by tragedy instead of my friend? No, I wouldn't say that. But I do always wonder why people who seem to rise above it all...the ones who take life in stride...the ones who are kind and caring...why them instead? Because doesn't it always seem to be them?
I know that sounds terrible. And I know what it SOUNDS like I am saying...but really, it's hard for me to make sense of it. I'm not terribly religious, so I'm not going to get into the metaphysical side of all this, but I do think that there is an order and a reason to life. When Tiny Man was born we had a few people shake their heads and wonder aloud why hubby and I had to deal with this. My answer was and is always the same: because we were right for it. We love each other, we have families who love us and support us, and we were able to take care of him. We were right for him. We were picked. I'll never stop thinking that I was chosen to be his momma.
So is this the same? Is there a greater lesson here? Is there a reason for this tragedy? I don't know. I do know that I have learned some lessons about kindness and the way it touches other people, and I intend to put that to good use.
In the meantime, give an extra thought, whether it be a prayer or some warm energy, or just a moment of your day to these people, especially that little boy. He has family and will be well cared for...but my hope is that he has learned kindness and knows what kind of people his parents are and were. Let's hope that he grows up to be kind and strong.