And so God continues to call children back to him, and I – who watch helpless as my sister lives this loss, counting down the years, months, weeks, days, minutes until her son’s heart stops beating and she must make her peace with a last goodbye; I who know nothing of this pain, except from a distance, a distance that does nothing to keep me at a remove from fear – am contemplating faithlessness, am wondering whether faith makes it easier or more difficult to bear such fear, such loss. Does faith offer the possibility of meaning in loss, does it provide relief from the fear? Or does loss in the presence of faith feel like betrayal?
I have not suffered the losses that my friends have suffered, that my sister will suffer. I have not suffered these losses and so I do not know these losses. But I fear them. I fear them with an intensity that makes my hands tremble, that makes my breath draw short. I fear them, and in this fear I feel betrayed by my faith that there is something in this universe that gives our lives meaning. I feel betrayed, because I know, I know, that if I ever face this loss, I will struggle to find meaning and I will fail.
I struggle and fail to find meaning now – I recoil at the very idea that there is some meaning that I should find, that I should seek to make this better, that I should search for the thing that makes this all okay, as if this, any of this, could be made to be okay – and this has nothing to do with me, nothing to do with me at all. And I feel betrayed. By God. By life. By whatever force in the universe is supposed to make these things make sense.
They cannot make sense, of course. If these things made sense – if the world were perfectly comprehensible by reason – then we would have no need for faith, for God. For philosophy, even, although about this last I am not certain. It does not matter, though, because even philosophers quaver in the face of death, Socrates notwithstanding. It does not matter, because even if there were some answer, I am not sure that it would console. There is no consolation for the loss of a child. None.
Shale went. Tanner will go. And in the course of only a few short days, Maddie, and now Thalon (“who is that?” Emilia demanded, looking at his picture on my screen. “Just a boy,” I said, fighting the tears. “Just a boy.”) and who knows how many other unknown children of unknown parents, suffering unknown loss, untold betrayal at the hands of gods who, promising love, deliver death and pain. Who knows?
I don’t. And I am lost.