Tuesday, July 19, 2011

on why.

jackie kennedy and her sister, lee radziwell. back when they were still bouviers. image here.
"what really raises one indignation against suffering is not suffering intrinsically, but the senselessness of suffering." -- frederich nietzsche

i told you some time ago that last year a friend from high school passed away. her death raised a lot of questions for me, or rather, made questions that have always lingered inside of me much more real and pertinent. questions about about death. about my faith. about where i was going and what i was doing with this life i've been given. but the biggest question i asked, and i feel it's almost instinct for a human being to ask, was why. why her. why did the accident happen. why did it take so long to get her to the hospital. why did it happen in africa. why. why. why. i just wanted to know why. yet out of all my questions, these seemed to be the hardest to answer.
before she died, debbie was planning on climbing mount kilimanjaro. to honor this unfulfilled dream, her ashes will be scattered at the top of the mountain by a small group of friends and family who will make the climb at the end of the summer. the trip involves a lot of training. a lot of dedication.
so when i found out over the fourth of july that her sister, in a freak accident on a training hike in colorado, was crushed by a boulder that came loose during a storm, i didn't ask why. because i just didn't have it in me anymore. i feel over the past few years that life has made it very clear that there are those to whom it is crueler, in an almost perverse way. life is not fair to any who pass who through it, but to a select few it seems to place burdens and losses upon them that no one should have to bear. that no one is capable of bearing. i've always heard that the worst loss and tragedy in life is the death of a child. so what, exactly, do we call it when a mother loses all of her children?
in the past few weeks i've thought a lot about these sisters. i wonder why they both were led to such tragic and untimely fates. fate, of course, seeming to be just another word we create to help us understand. because sometimes things happen. and sometimes we can't ask why anymore. because there can be no answer for this. no way to rationalize this. but for all our thirst for knowledge, there are things that we'll never know. and this, i suppose, may well be my number one.
in her last few moments, her sister asked her hiking partner to pray for her soul and told him she was going to be with debbie. her ashes, too, will be scattered at the top of the mountain in august. and perhaps there's some comfort to take in knowing these sisters, who were almost inseparable during their time among us, will be together once again.

"or maybe it's because i finally understand. there are things we don't want to happen, but we have to accept; things we don't want to know, but we have to learn, and people we can't live without, but have to let go." -- jennifer jareau


  1. wow. what an incredibly sad story. my heart breaks for that mother. i can't even begin to imagine.

    i agree completely that some people have lives filled with tragedy while others (like myself, really) have so very little. it doesn't make any sense.

  2. What terrible losses for that family! I'm so sorry.

  3. This brought tears to my eyes. That poor family! It's good that you aren't asking why. It will only drive you crazy.

  4. That is an incredible sad story. I am kind of speechless (but a little bit teary).


  5. So sad what that family has gone through! I can't imagine. Fate is a really weird thing to think about. I used to always think things happened for a reason, but when my mom got in a really serious car accident last summer (she's ok, thank God!), she really had me questioning that idea.


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