No Other Word…
Last week my daughter and two of her friends were involved in a terrible car accident that claimed the life of one of the other girls. My daughter suffered no serious injuries and will be okay physically. We have professionals on standby for her to talk to but I am optimistic in thinking the emotional wounds will also heal in time. Still, this is a time of cautious steps for us. One family is suffering a tragic loss while two others are trying to make sense of what happened. We feel sluggish and a little unsure of the best way to move forward. The only way I can describe what we are experiencing is to call it a ‘near-grief’. If all the girls had survived I think we could breathe a sigh of relief and be thankful. Because one girl died we find ourselves dwelling on how close we came to suffering our own loss. My daughter exists for us as a fragile thing that we are scared to hold too tight for fear we will wake up and find she is gone too and her survival was a dream. We can’t touch her in the way we want to because she is still recovering from her injuries. My fatherly need to wrap my arms around her and never let go is like an itch that can’t be scratched. That has made things all that much harder.
Christopher’s post on atheism and the unfairness of certain diseases and death came at very emotional time for me as I struggle to figure this out. I count myself a Believer in a higher power but in a very non-denominational way. My faith (if it is fair to call it that) is less a product of my Catholic upbringing and more a product of my time in the woods and the awe I find there for Creation. My mind simply cannot grasp the natural world without attributing the super natural to it and so I choose to believe in Something without trying to build a theology around it. Without that framework to lean on I have no choice but to consider logic. My daughter’s survival and her friend’s death were a matter of physics and chance. My rationale brain knows this, but that feels like an unacceptable explanation.
The only word I can take comfort in right now is ‘miracle’. Nothing else seems to fit. We’ve already heard the typical cliches from friends about angels protecting her. I refuse to accept that because of what it implies for the other girl. In that way I understand what Christopher is saying. The unfairness of this tragedy does not push me towards a lack of belief though. If anything it pushes me in the other direction because I once again realize that so many things are beyond my understanding and find my heart aching for something which can encapsulate the unknown. Perhaps this is the coward’s way out of my spiritual predicament but if so, I choose to take it. While I will not ever believe that this was God’s plan, I do choose to believe that we can find meaning in things that seem beyond explanation if we look hard enough. Looking for meaning is an act of faith for me because the alternative is to accept that even powerful events can be meaningless. They say that religion is the opiate of the masses, but I’m looking for something to simply take the edge off. For me, that kind of Faith (capital F) is not so hard these days.