Just Wondering……13 Comments
I’ve been thinking lately how much I wish that I had a strong religious belief. You know, the kind where you just know in your heart what is after this life. I used to think that I knew. It was something that I was taught from a child and through 16 years of parochial school. There was a heaven and a hell. All good people went to heaven, and well, you can figure out the rest. (I won’t elaborate on Limbo or Purgatory, as they both led to heaven eventually, anyway.) Truth is, I never had to test that belief before. Even when my Dad died, I didn’t go there. He was an agnostic, though, maybe that’s why. Or maybe, just because I knew it was his time. It happened in the natural order of things.
Losing a child is not something one expects, even when told that a child is terminally ill, some part of that parent hopes for a miracle. Ah, a miracle! Another belief rooted in the spiritual…the conviction that there is something bigger, greater than us. I have to admit that I believed in miracles. I used to tell the kids how their guardian angels looked out for them. Sean’s was on full-time duty, but he always came through, at least it seemed he did.
A friend sent me an email the other day, very religious in tone. The message was that there are no premature deaths. We reap what we sow. One of the examples chosen was John Lennon and how he once stated that Christianity would disappear, the implication being that he was killed early in life because of his disbelief. I couldn’t read any further. Honestly, I was shocked that someone sent this to me. It wasn’t intentional, as it was forwarded to what looked like a contact list, and I consider her a good, empathetic friend who loved Sean. I wondered how someone could be so certain that their God would kill one of his creations because of a belief. Do we extrapolate this to every child or young person who dies prematurely? Are they somehow responsible? I know this belief to be false. I know that Sean neither wanted, nor deserved to die. I know how hard he tried to live a normal life and be a good person. I now also know why it was hard for him to conquer his fears. How do I know this? Because, over the past 4 years, I have heard Sean’s story over and over again., by mothers and wives whose hearts are also torn open by loss. Just last week, the Fund got a generous donation. As a response to my thank you, a Mom told me how she had just lost her son to bipolar disorder, after a serious manic episode. By all accounts, he was a talented, funny, loving young man. His Mom is also a nurse and reiterated my experience with inadequate care of her son, despite his compliance. She donated in the hope of making a difference..
Another friend posted the question recently: Did God create man, or did man create God? I admit that I don’t subscribe to an organized religion. I do believe, however, in the power of good (derivative of god?). One of my favorite songs that Sean covered was “Love is Amazing.” Love is amazing. They say Love has the power to move mountains. It certainly can help a mother with a broken heart, and help change attitudes that can lead to a cure and care for a horrible and dangerous disease. I don’t know if I’ll see Sean again in the form that I know him, but I see him now, in the tears and smiles of his friends and family, in the ongoing loyalty of his fans, in the healing that his passing has enabled in others. I feel it when people begin to examine their prejudice about mental illness and addiction. He is here everyday in his music, in the generosity of people who are no longer strangers to me.
I can’t say what God I believe in, but I do believe in community. A compassionate community encircles Sean’s family to this very day. I think it’s our choice to leave an imprint on this world. I think it’s our decision if we want to view the world as one creation, and to correct things that impair its harmony and growth. Rather than quoting (or misquoting) the Bible, using it to pass judgment, we can emulate the great prophets who tried to heal the sick, and mingled with the poorest and sickest among them. The impact of mental illness is great, as is its stigma. The willingness to address it is growing. Many of you are part of that movement, and some of you because of your relationship with Sean. It helps me. It has taught me that life goes on through the love and caring of others.
If you believe in a religion, I envy you, but I hope that belief engenders the feeling that all of your God’s children deserve a chance, and that it is incumbent upon us to make that happen in whatever way we can. I still do believe in miracles; I count you, who have supported the mission of the Fund and who honor Sean’s memory, among them.
Have a loving, safe and fun summer!