“Mi corazon está roto. Roto.” My heart is broken. Broken. These were the only words I could summon, in speaking with my host parents in Mexico, after learning that their son had died, suddenly. On December 26. Of a heart attack. At age 36.
Nine days later, I feel a bit calmer. Somehow, my mind has accepted that Roje is dead. But I also know that my heart has acquired another fissure, one that will scab over, and hurt less, but will leave a lasting scar.
I find comfort in the idea that cracks are how the light gets in. Just today, when I entered the library and heard a screaming infant, I felt compassion for her and for her mom. Before my own struggles with parenting, I probably would have thought, “God, can’t you make her shut up? This is a library. People are working.” But the difficulties of motherhood have cracked me enough to make room for compassion and empathy. Though I wouldn’t have chosen postpartum depression or a colicky infant, I can see that good did come from those struggles.
The idea that God can bring good out of anything is different than the idea that everything happens for a reason. I just re-read an article by Christine Marie Eberly about this distinction and found it very helpful. When someone says “Everything happens for a reason,” the implication is that God chose this suffering for us for some reason we don’t understand. That concept of God doesn’t work for me. I prefer St. Paul’s notion that God can bring good out of whatever happens to us. Anne Lamott says she pictures Jesus saying, “You’re hurting. Me too. You’re angry. Me too. You’re heartbroken. Me too.” That’s a God that I can believe in.
I hate that Rogelio died. And that’s my right. I never would have chosen this for his wife or his parents, or his small children. But there it is. We cannot control when or how our loved ones die. I don’t know how good will come of this, but I have to believe that it will.
Thank you, Roje, for your friendship, your love. Thank you for your beautiful children, your example of kindness and generosity. I am a better person because I knew you. You will always be my brother. Te extrano mucho mi hermano.