Sunday, May 4, 2008

Finding Meaning

Oceana brightening my day when I was still in the hospital.

On Friday, I spent a little time with my 4-year-old niece, Oceana.
Oce is sharply perceptive and deeply affectionate. I am in awe of her every time I am with her. On Friday, she asked me to ride in the back seat of the car, next to her booster seat, while my sister drove us to lunch. Oce spent most of the ride drawing pictures for everyone - pictures of dinosaurs, ladders and trumpets. While she drew, she asked me questions about my stitches, my scar, why I need crutches, when I'll be able to walk without them. She wanted to know why Curious George had crutches that were a different color than mine. She wanted to know why I had scars on my left arm, but not my right arm.

Oceana has a scar, too. When she was only a few months old, she had heart surgery. She was born with two holes in her heart. We looked at her scar and mine. My sister told her, "You and Aunt Jessie have matching scars." Oce seemed pleased by that, and so was I.

Later that day, Oce asked me,"Sagey died in the car?" I said, "Yes, Honey." Then she asked why. I thought this was a really good question. I didn't have an answer, and that is all I could tell her. I said, "I don't know why, Sweety. People die in different ways, and Sage died in a car." She left it at that, but my answer felt inadequate. When I turn that question over in my mind, I never reach a solid answer. Chance? He died because circumstances happened to converge in just such a way that our truck was hit by a semi? It seems so very random. In the end, I usually abandon the question, "Why?" and move on to, "What now?" I think that looking for reasons is different from finding meaning. I will never know the reason we lost our child, but I can find meaning in the way I move forward from this point.


Anonymous said...

Last night Susan and I were talking, she was so apprciative of your note to her about the book and "horsey". We sit and wonder all of the same types of questions, all of the ones with no real answers. Why great parents are left in grief when those of us who were (at best) mediocre have not yet suffered this way? NO real answers, except the new question you say you ask yourself "What now?" I may have shared this with you sometime long ago, if I have then just file it. When I was at Prescott College one of my professor's (he was the dean of students) told me that a real education is not about finding answers, but about learning how to ask BETTER questions. I have relied on that bit of wisdom often, it is the wisdom you are talking about here. "Why?" may be a great question for Oceana to ask (by the way say 'hi' to her for me), because it never occurs to her that there may be a question that you can not answer, but for us we often butt up against the inadequacy of that question and so begin to look for the BETTER question, and often that question's verb is 'What'.

Thanks for this posting...

amee said...

It was great to see and hang out with you today. Thank you for letting us hang out so long (I know you were probably so hungry!). It was just so nice to be there and talk with you. Hope you enjoyed the soup.