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What It Means

What does it mean to live?

When a baby is born, that question seems impossibly simple. Just looking into your newborn's eyes, and you know the answer. Joy, life, confidence, wonder, all that promised, and more. Your baby blinks sleepily up at you, and the love rushes out of your heart. The sun shines down and bathes you in its joyful rays. You know what life means. But then, as life winds on, you are not so sure of the answer. Things seem to come down off of the high, and everyday may be a little grayer; a little scarier then the last. And then one day, something so terrible, something so dreaded will happen, and it forces you to change your answer.

What does it mean to struggle?

When life is hard, filled with inexplicable and helpless pain, when everything goes wrong, and then death may cross your doorstep. You might be tempted to say that it doesn't mean anything. Anything other then grief. Babies born, just to die, days, months or years later. That is all it means. There are days when everything makes you cry, because the sadness is everywhere. Days when you fight the gloom and the despair. Live, you may say, forget about it!

What does it mean to die?

Perhaps that is what the question should be, you may decide finally. Every baby born into this fallen world comes in with a shadow of death. Every passing minute is marked by an invisible countdown clock. You don't think about your own impending death, because when you look at your child, your spouse, all those people that you desperately love, you would go ahead and die on the spot, if it would give them life. Because how can you even comprehend the thought of life without them? It is, and would be, completely unbearable. The grief that weighs like a crushing mountain, bearing you in its depths alive.

What does it mean to love?

It means, that instead of collapsing, crumbling, breaking, though some of that will happen, you love. Though surrounded by death and pain, you continue to love. Because that is the only way to conquer death. Submitting, accepting it, but never giving into the darkness. Yes, death is here, but somehow, it has lost its sting. Instead crushing you with a giant force, it is just "there," like a barrier, benign and without power. Just a separation, just like a quick and easy goodbye,  when you know you will see that person again momentarily. Life starts to look simpler, shorter, different, when you are not so invested in it anymore. The people you love are still there. The world changes, and so do your priorities. You find that life is easier to hold, the less you grip it. Like holding a bar of soap: squeeze it, and it shoots out of your hands. Cradle it gently, and it stays nestled in your palm. No, you don't want to die, neither do you want anyone else around you to either. But if death comes, if the sadness storms in, if the grief starts to throttle you, loosen your grip, light a candle at the icon corner, and offering up your heart, your pain, you transform it into something completely different. That pain of death, becomes the pain of life. And not just any life, the life that is eternal, the life that you were promised. The life that you were given.

Our thoughts, tears, and hearts are with the King Family, who just four months ago, lost their miracle son Noah, and now have lost their father and husband to a massive heart attack that came out of nowhere. Lisa King's heart-breaking Blog.

Through out all of this, I was reminded by a book that Justin and I have recently read called, "The Scalpel and the Soul: Encounters with Surgery, the Supernatural, and the Healing Power of Hope."
It is a hard book to read, but infinitely profound. The author: Alan Hamilton, is a neurosurgeon, among other things, and he writes about his experience being a witness to the hardest time in the lives of families. His stories are incredible, true, and break your heart. How love effects our physical bodies, sometimes healing, and sometimes, causing them to give up when love and hope are gone.  Grief and stress is very deep-seated force that effects every aspect in a person's life. It IS possible to die of a broken heart. I had a relative on my mum's side who's daughter died of a childhood illness way-back-when in Russia, and she followed her daughter not 12 hours later.

What does this all mean?

Well, perhaps we won't ever know.

 But, with faith, maybe we can live with that.

Memory Eternal dear little Noah, and Memory Eternal to his wonderful father, Aaron.


  1. every day that we have someone we love is a separate and undeniable miracle. And we must remember to say thanks for every one. Look up the word "dayenu". At Seder, the Jews have a litany about the things that God did for them..such as "if He had only taken us out of Egypt, but not let us cross the Red Sea...dayenu!" so for Leo and for you and for the days of Noah......dayenu! love, Claire

  2. Oh, what a sad story.. I'm in tears:((
    All my problems now seem so pointless, foolish..
    Rest in peace, Noah and Aaron:(

  3. Ugh. I have no other words, but am so so deeply touched by their story.

  4. It is so strange to me that you wrote this post on the same day as a funeral that my parents went to, that I was unable to attend due to scheduling mundanity. The funeral was for my friend's dad. My friend himself died over four years ago.

    Memory Eternal to all those who have fallen asleep...


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