Category Archives: Grief

Limited empathy

Sometimes I feel the disturbance in the force
And I am undone
Or more appropriately in-Donne
John Donne said “each man’s death diminished me
for I am part of mankind…
do not ask for whom the bell tolls,”
it tolls for me.
At any moment in time
Thousands of universes are shattered
Thousands of hearts are broken
Thousands of arms left empty
Thousands of lives left full of holes.
And the shrapnel of a thousand shattered universes
Shatter mine.
I feel the disquiet of emptiness
Science says the space between the atoms is actually full
But I cannot feel it’s fullness
Only the stark appearance of empty space.
Faith or no faith
No explanation satisfies
And well-meaning axioms appear like empty space.
Less comfort
More questions
Echo through the cold brokenness.
And I feel the shattering of a thousand universes
And hope one of them isn’t mine.

Reflections on losing two friends to cancer in less than a month

On Monday I went to a celebration of life out at the Oasis. Josh died on May 18.  Today I’m missing a funeral in Houston for my Wanda who died June 4.  Wanda and Josh each held a special place in my heart. My world is diminished because neither of them is going to be around, but the thought of eternity and seeing them again makes me feel hopeful and strong.

I believe that Wanda and Josh still are and that they continue to exist as their uniquely recognizable selves. Out at the Oasis on Monday someone said that Josh was always emerging from experiences, even challenging ones, as a better version of himself, but always authentically himself.  When this life ends, when all the fears and distractions and false perceptions are stripped away for good, we are always God’s creatively intended versions of ourselves. I look forward to spending time again with Wanda and Josh as our fully authentic selves.

Wanda was my friend for 37 years and Ted knew her over forty years. Wanda was grounded in simplicity. She was interesting and she was interested. She noticed and processed things with great perception and intelligence but she was also approachable and communicated great affection and respect toward the people in her life. I would always feel smarter after talking with her.  I will miss Wanda.

We’ve been friends with Josh and Connie and their daughter, Charlotte for nine or ten years, but it seems longer. Josh was so chill and in the moment.  Monday night people kept saying the same things about Josh: easy to talk with,  great listener, accepting, incredibly empathetic, perceptive and funny. People said these same things because Josh was the same authentic guy no matter no matter the company or the context.  I will miss Josh.

Cancer sucks. Why can’t modern medicine figure out how to kill this bitch? Wanda was 58, my age, and Josh was a year older. In general, life expectancy in the U.S. for women is 86 and for men is 84. Wanda and Josh were robbed. We, their family and friends, were robbed. I’m mad. I know it does no good but I am.

Maybe this is selfish. Inevitably, when peers die, our own mortality looms large. Even with the promise of eternity, which does take away so much of the heaviness,  don’t want my life to be over. I don’t want theirs to be over either.

With many ailments, certainly with cancer, people do reach a point when they just want it to be over and recognize it’s time. It seems to have been that way for both Wanda and Josh. Near the end they both spoke of futures not in this world. I am glad they are both cancer free now. I’m so glad we got to say goodbye to each of them before they left here and got to let them know how much we love them.  I’m glad they are now always experiencing God in unimaginable, delightful, transcendent ways that are barely perceived in this life. That’s a comfort. It really is.

Now that I think about it, Josh and Wanda actually had a lot in common.  They didn’t know each other in this life but maybe they do now. I can imagine them jamming on guitar and viola.

P.S. I don’t know why there is a little hole in the picture I took at the Oasis. If it was bigger I’d say it’s the hole their passing left.