Why? What can I say?

Last night my youngest daughter,
asked me through tears,
“why him?”.
She had been told that,
her school friends little brother,
was very sick.
He is five years old.

Over the past ten months,
my daughter has also watched another family,
live the nightmare of having a very sick child.
Thankfully that young boy,
who is only thirteen,
is, for now anyway, recovering well,
from a bone marrow transplant for leukemia.

As she sat sobbing in my lap,
I felt so sad for her.

I have three other older children,
who have been able to race through childhood,
happy and carefree.
Never having to face such uncertainty.
Never for a moment having to question,
life after death.photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/ksayer/5614813544/">Ksayer1</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">cc</a>
Certainly never having to face,
at such a young age,
the awful threat of life ending for a child.

She was in desperate need of answers.
“Why was he sick?”.
“Why him?”.
“Why did this happen?”

As she sat in my arms,
her face tear streaked,
asking these questions,
I realized I could not help her.

I have no faith.
I have no God.
No heaven. No angels. No happy ever after.
I wish I did, but I don’t.
But my little girl needed that.
She needed the “fairytale”,
she needed something to soften the blow.

I am usually a great actress,
and a wonderful liar,
when the situation demands it.
Yet last night I could do neither.

I am more than comfortable,
with my own lack of faith.
It has taken me all these years to get here,
but I think a child of eleven,
facing up to the reality of death,
and the uncertainty of life,
should be given a softer message.

I see my husband, and friends,
and how comforting religion is for them.
I read posts of others,
who have very strong faith,
which helps them make sense,
of dreadful situations.
I want that for my daughter.

Unbelievable as it may seem,photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/eustaquio/4488210375/">Eustaquio Santimano</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>
I, the one who does not believe,
wants my daughter to have faith.
I don’t know how to achieve this,
as she understands and accepts,
that I don’t “do Mass”.
As is the case of many children,
of stay at home mothers,
I am a strong influence in her life.

Yet over the years,
I have always been careful,
not to dismiss religion,
in her presence.
I have never said out loud,
that I have no faith,
but my lack of words about God,
has in itself spoken volumes.

So I am faced with this situation.
What will I do?
What can I do?
How can I give her solace at this time?

My immediate thoughts are,
to pass a lot of this to her Dad.
He can speak from the heart,
about his belief,
and hopefully give her comfort.
I will be there when he does,
so she may think I agree,
and I might even manage to lie convincingly.

In the other moments,
when she looks to me,
and asks “why?”,
I can truthfully answer,
“Sweetheart, I just don’t know”.

photo credit: Ksayer1 via photopin cc
photo credit: Eustaquio Santimano via photopin cc

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22 thoughts on “Why? What can I say?

  1. Tric, I think that’s all anyone can do – be honest. If we don’t understand and don’t know why, then allowing for the mystery in life is what we can share….

    My daughter Elizabeth is the one who taught me about faith and spirituality. When she was born I had no belief in the divine or spirits. At age 2 she started telling me about spirits she saw (people who’d recently died) and also would accurately predict events that there was no way she could have known. At first I would “correct” her, and quickly learned to listen instead! She expanded my understanding of existence and I’m grateful that I was open enough to listen!

    1. Thank you Lucia Maya. I am not actually too closed a person but I have rejected organised religion. I will continue to keep my eyes and ears and mind open.
      As for my little lady, I will do my best it is a very sad time for her, and a growing up experience I wish she did not have to have.

  2. I’m so sorry. How terribly sad.

    I find that even when you don’t believe in them, it’s sometimes comforting to take refuge in the old ideas. I’m an atheist, but sometimes I pray anyway.

  3. I’m so sorry your little one is having to deal with this. But what comfort it is to know she has parents who take what they say to her, very seriously. And I’m very sorry for the little five year old friend. I hope there is comfort and healing surrounding them.

        1. It is so sad. He was flown to London to Great Ormond Street last week so sadly they are far from home and support and will have to wait who knows how long to fly him home once more.
          He was only five. A baby!
          I know you too are still coming to terms with loss. It is all so final.

          However on a positive note my little warrior continues to improve!!!

        2. I’m sorry for the family and hope that where they are, that community of caregivers is adding a personal touch.

          And for your little warrior…. he is incredible! I hope when he is home and better he is overcome with the power of thought that tells him….. he can do anything he wants!

        3. I do not know when they will come home but there is huge support waiting for them. However having seen my other friend look into this hell, and thankfully not go there I have a better understanding that there is nothing we can do to make them feel better.
          We still hold our breath for own little warrior, it is impossible to relax. Thanks for you kind thoughts.

  4. It’s a difficult question to grapple with, even for adults. I don’t think there is ever a good answer, religion or not. I think sitting and listening to your daughter was the best possible thing that could be done. Sometimes, a comforting presence is all that is needed.
    I hope her little friend will be ok. Glad to hear that your friend’s son is responding well to treatment.

    1. My friends son is going from strength to strength thank goodness but we are still very very cautious.
      Sadly her friends little brother passed away today. It is very sad.
      Life can be so difficult for some parents. It doesn’t bear thinking about.

  5. Poor little mite. It make sound strange, but I think your daughter has understood the answer to her question – that’s maybe why she was crying. My heart goes out to you both. I haven’t been faced with this yet, but I’m ready to tell my kids as nicely as I can that life isn’t fair, and it’s nobody’s fault, but that they can be actors in making this kind of situation more comfortable for those who are going through a bad time. I hope that things look up for her pal, and that she has a smile back on her face soon.

    1. You are spot on. With all that has been happening in my other friends life I think my little one really did understand the concept of death.
      Sadly her friends little brother passed away today. It is so sad. He was only five years old. Every parents nightmare.

    1. Thanks a million. It really doesn’t bear thinking about. He was flown to Great Ormond Street last week so they are all so far away. Incredibly sad. He will be a huge loss. My little lady is doing well although naturally sad.

  6. like you, i have rejected organized religion, raised catholic and decided at 7 to get out as soon as i had the choice. kindness is my spiritual approach to life and i try my best to live that way. i am so sorry you and your daughter are experiencing this and the loss will never be forgotten. a child’s first experience with death, especially of another child is something that is truly life changing. hugs to all )

    1. Thank you. Hugs much appreciated! My little lady is doing well. Sad but as is typical of a child very happy in between. She is being spoiled by my friends which she is enjoying hugely. They had a ceremony in the school today, putting his photo and school workbook on a table and speaking about him. My daughter did a reading. All of which I thought was just perfect to help her acknowledge her friends loss and grieve in an “organised” way as well as giving her time to cry. Life is so hard for some. I cannot begin to imagine losing a child of any age but particularly one so young! We are so lucky really in so many ways.

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