When Karl and Floyd were still missing, before we knew the horrible truth, I found myself trying to make deals with fate. “Maybe one, but not both, no, it can’t be both of them”. Somehow it didn’t seem possible. Especially on top of all the losses the last few years have brought. It just couldn’t be true. This past week reminded me that, as these things go, it could have been much worse. Ted Kennedy’s death at 77 is a terrible loss, but he lived, as people kept mentioning, “to comb grey hair”. He lived through the untimely death of three brothers, a sister, and three nephews. Against that backdrop, things like his son loss of a leg to cancer at the age of 12 are just minor tragedies.
In the months after January, I sometimes found myself angry at the fact that so many people were able to live lives untouched by tragedy, while we have had to deal with so much loss. But there is something to be learned as well. It made a big difference when my old friends, Ishaq and Nisa, showed up after Karl died and said “we understand”. They lost their brother just a few years ago. Like so many others, they said “the pain doesn’t go away, but it becomes easier to deal with”. And that made a difference.
There are good days, and there are bad days. The hardest part of Michael Jackson’s death was to see Jermaine come out and speak of his loss as a brother. This week has also been very tough, but not so much so much because of the loss of Ted Kennedy. Instead, it was the focus on his losses that hit home, that shook me loose, once again, from the tentative moorings I have built. And yet in his story there is inspiration. He took his losses and turned them into compassion for people, for all people. He stood up and was the responsible one. In his example, there is much to learn.
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