My sister Marianne writes a beautiful blog about her journey as a mom of a Down Syndrome son; it’s called the Retarded Mother and is always worth the read. I wanted to comment on her recent piece about losing her daughter Joanna, back in 1987, which even though is 23 years ago, seems like yesterday.
I got frustrated trying to post my comment to her blog because I had to get through the security checks and as usual was not very successful. You know the ones I am talking about; you have to look at something that appears to be an array of numbers and letters, and reproduce it to prove you are not a robot. The letters, much like a doctor’s handwriting on his/her worst day, are arranged so that no one can actually decipher them. I understand that there is a secret grade on a curve logarithm built in where if you try 8 times, that in itself proves you are not a robot (ostensibly because you care so darn much.) And by the way, wouldn’t my frustration and expletives prove I am not a robot? (One of my computer fantasies is that I invent a robot to fill out those boxes for me. Ah you say, further proof, as robots do not have fantasies.)
I can offer further evidence that I am not a robot, should the cyber security police want it. As I read my sister’s blog about the loss of her precious daughter Joanna, and saw the footprints that she shared for the very first time, I wanted to kiss those tiny feet right on my computer screen. I cried for the loss of this little one, and thought about meeting her one day in heaven. I wondered if she would tease me and say “Aunty Liz! Did you really kiss my footprints on your computer screen?” And then I would blush, and cry, and hug her, and say “Why yes, I did actually,” and then kiss her tiny feet in person.
I am not the most compassionate person alive, but I am no robot. The last three months in our family’s life has been filled with some unbearable heartache. While seemingly going about my business, I have had such a heaviness inside each and every day. It began in February when my brother-in-law was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. A few weeks later our cousin was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a mastectomy. And last but not least, a young couple in our family suffered a miscarriage. Each of these situations has moved me to pray, plead, weep, reflect, ponder, and feel so sad inside. Like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz, I know I have a heart because it is breaking.
In addition to the tears however, I have one further piece of evidence that I am not a robot. In the midst of all this sadness, I still believe in a good and loving God. I am perplexed and disappointed at times that He does not grant all my requests, which are quite reasonable to my un-robotic mind. Yet I cannot seem to wipe Him from my consciousness, or banish Him from my mini-kingdom. His loving presence seeps back in at times when I least expect it, and via folks who are struggling themselves.
To come back to the opening of this piece, my brother-in-law Joe, who is battling lung cancer, shared his story of the loss of Joanna. My sister Marianne was there as well and I was so moved to hear each detail as they shared their personal and sad story, and to see that the sharing of it was still so painful, but it was done to join with me in my grief about our family’s miscarriage.
The fellowship of suffering, while a true members only establishment, does not have anyone clamoring to get in. However if you find that you have landed there against your will, how nice to find loving people inside its walls who have traveled that road, and who will cry with you, and sit with you, and share your pain, and help you believe that life can have joy again. In that tiny kitchen in Five Points, I think all three of us proved we were not robots. We love, we hope, we hurt, we mourn, we joke, we laugh, we remember, we rise up again, and we look for joy anywhere we can find it. I find mine in God, the people He has given me to love and who love me, music, and last but not least, chocolate. There’s your proof; now quit making me copy those crazy letters.