“Why do sad things have to happen?”
This is what my eight year old asked me last night, right before bed. We had just finished reading a book about the Titanic. Weird choice for an eight year old. It’s the second time he checked out a book about the ill fated ship, and this time, he didn’t check out just one book, he checked out two.
He thought the story was sad. So did I.
He tried to find something positive about the tragedy, as the story we read did, by recounting to me the increased safety measures cruise lines have taken because of the Titanic, but still, he didn’t understand why so many people had to lose their lives.
I said I didn’t know. I told him that without sadness we wouldn’t know what happiness felt like. It felt lame, even as I was saying it.
He described a scenario to me in which everyone was happy and no one knew what crying or unhappiness was. I could tell he sensed the futility of his vision. I just listened.
I’ve been reading the blog, An Inch of Gray, for a few months, now. I visited the site occasionally, before that, but wasn’t a frequent visitor until Anna, the author of the blog, lost her son in a freak accident. Remember all that weird weather the east coast experienced late in the summer, the hurricane and flash floods? It was during this time that her son was playing outside with his friends and got swept away in a creek that had previously been (and has since returned to) nothing but a small stream of water. Tragically, he drowned.
Sometimes, I read her blog and feel such sadness that I vow never to read it again. To use her words, she is my worst nightmare. This is how I felt, the other day, when she wrote how there was a time when she wished for less laundry and less running around (who hasn’t been there?), and now, that she has less laundry and does less running around, it really just sucked.
But I go back. I am rooting for this woman and her family. I want to believe that she can recover from the terrible, senseless tragedy that occurred. I am amazed by her faith and even more humbled by the strange occurrences that keep happening, that seem to be much more than coincidence, or a grieving mother looking for a sign.
An Inch of Gray, like my son’s new found revelation, reminds me that sad things do happen. I don’t know why. I don’t think anyone does. We don’t wish them on anyone else, but at the same time, we hope they don’t happen to us.
It’s also a reminder that life can change instantly, with no warning and through no fault of our own. As much as we like to believe the opposite, we aren’t always the master of our destinies, and that’s scary.
As Thanksgiving draws closer, Anna’s story, as much as I’m sure she wishes it didn’t, serves as a reminder to cherish our loved ones, the good days, the bad days, and everything in between. Tomorrow is promised to no one, we can only love today.