Instead of letting people die and having to make new ones, why don’t you just keep the ones you got now?
–Jane, 6 years old
I received the book “Children’s Letters to God,” compiled by Stuart Hample and Eric Marshall, shortly after my sister Rachel was born.
I never really gave the above passage much thought until I realized how quickly this school year has passed, and how many things in our lives can change within a year.
Last year, at exactly this time, I was writing a Mother’s Day column celebrating all women who make impacts in children’s lives.
I wrote about three women, my grandmother, my mother and my godmother. At the time, my godmother was celebrating her first Mother’s Day without her mother, who had died earlier that year. I remember not being able to imagine what she was going through or how alone she felt.
Now, as the day dedicated to mothers approaches, and my family dreads experiencing it for the first time without my grandmother, I find myself asking God the same question that 6-year-old Jane does.
It has been almost eight months since my grandmother died of heart disease. I realize now that the people who reassured me that I would be doing better, feeling stronger and having closure by this time were wrong.
When a loved one dies, so many things change that one cannot even begin to list or understand. All of the ache comes later.
For me, realizing that she will not be at my graduation is something that should not seem possible. Her absence at anything important in my life from my wedding to bearing children makes such events seem a little less valid. I know that it should not be this way, and that “life goes on,” however, I do not believe it continues by choice.
Just before my senior year in high school, my best friend Patrick died of cancer. He was 17 years old. With all the commercialism that surrounds every holiday, I cannot help but wonder what his mother feels like every Mother’s Day.
Although I do not have children, I think that losing a child is probably the most difficult encounter anyone could ever endure.
When he died, I could not understand how a loving God would allow cancer to go to his children. When Patrick was diagnosed, cancer became something that happened to more than just older people. It happened to people like me.
According to the American Cancer Society, a total of 552,200 Americans are expected to die of cancer this year alone. What I do not understand about cancer is its selection process. Cancer is not racist, sexist or close minded. Everyone is at risk at any given period of time in their lives. Sometimes, when I try to figure out cancer’s logic, I envision an assembly line of people, some are selected for the disease with an “X,” while others are granted health.
For many people my age, there is a false security that their loved ones will be around for a long time. Families fight, stop speaking to each other and do not worry because eventually, they believe that things will be OK. However, life does not dance that way. It teases people by giving them chances, but can change at any given point of time.
I never thought that I would be familiar with death at the age of 20. When I begin to feel sorry for myself, I think of my little sister, who at 8, also lost her grandmother. I wonder if Jane wrote her letter to God for the same reason.
If only there were answers, some type of reassurance that the people we love will be around. If only, the “miracle” doctors and the amazing technologies of society could rid the world of heart disease, cancer and other terminal diseases with needed cures.
This weekend should remind everyone of who they have and who they have left. For many, it should be a starting point to express truth in regard to emotions and a realization to hold on to the people who matter the most.
Alisha Rosas, a junior journalism major, is editor in chief of the Campus Times. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.