Life In Perspective
I just returned from a condolence call to parents of a 4-month old baby boy, who died Tuesday evening, apparently from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The walls of the family apartment still displayed mementos of their son's birth just four months before. They have a seven-year old son, and either in school or in a home project, he had made a paper vest, on which was painted, "Wish me Mazal Tov [congratulations], I am a Big Brother." On another wall was a poster with the outline of a baby and a baby diaper glued to it, on which was also written "Mazel Tov." The funeral had been this afternoon, and I don't think that the parents yet had the heart to remove the memories of their recent joy, too soon turned to tears of anguish. Several times I found myself close to weeping openly, and later, when I related the scene to my wife, I did cry.
Both the Hedgehog and I live and actively participate in religious communities that exemplify the values of family and community. When caught up in busy and rewarding careers, or just the reactive posture of everyday life, we sometimes forget what is truly important. A tragedy such as the death of a child forces one to appreciate what one has, and what can be so easily forever lost. At the same time, while we would always prefer to share in the joyous events in the lives of our friends and neighbors, it is precisely times of sadness and loss that bring into sharp focus the redemptive strength of religious communal life, as its members rally to support a grieving family. Nonetheless, one can only say, God protect us from such tragedy.