On Friday Abby died. I was out when Lisa called me on my cell and said Abby was actively dying. I rushed home. Abby was lying on a pillow on the floor. Lisa and Casile were with her there. I got down too. Eventually Jesse came home and joined us. Joshua was in another city at the time. She had stopped blinking her eyes and was breathing irregularly. We just lied with her and stroked her and spoke softly and lovingly to her. After about an hour she breathed her last little breath. Lisa got her stethoscope and put it to Abby’s chest. Nothing. She was gone. We cried. We are still crying.
I’m surprised by my reaction. I really underestimated the impact her leaving us would have. The grief I am feeling is enormous. She was like our child. I had obviously taken this for granted. There was no expectation that her death would devastate me so much.
So I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I would like to share a few reflections:
- Creation: There is a hollowness in my life after Abby died. There is a vacancy, an empty space, a loneliness. I considered how in the Christian religious story God desired companionship and so created man. Then man desired companionship so God created woman. Then Adam and Eve desired companionship so they created children. When faced with and experiencing death, I saw how we could be tempted to interpret history to make sense of our emptiness and loneliness. Of course if there was a God he would want to make us in order not to be lonely! Space abhors a vacuum. So do we. So must God.
- Soul: What a strange feeling when I picked up Abby after she died. Whenever I picked her up before she was always full of life and energy. There was personality plus! But when I picked her up to take her away there was absolutely no life. Completely limp. This is the most graphic memory I take from that sad day. Whatever was there before was gone. There had to be something here, then now not here. I can see how we would come to this conclusion. I could feel it in my arms. I can see how we would like to call it soul or spirit.
- Eternal Life: Where did Abby go? Where did her “Abby-ness” go? What happened to her energy, her life? How can this little ball of endless energy, joy and unconditional love suddenly end? Is it really possible for anything to really end? Doesn’t that create a black hole? I can see how fear, the fear of the unchallengeable power of death, it might motivate me to say there has to be life after this. Or perhaps curiosity would lead me to ask if it’s all just biology. Energy doesn’t just stop, does it? It transforms or spreads or creates something, doesn’t it? Or perhaps magical thinking might want me to conclude that there must be anther place… let’s call it heaven. I cannot prove anything. I can only surmise.
- I have no problem considering that our religion is our own complete, delicate, and sometimes majestically beautiful construction.
- I also have no problem considering that our religion is not an end in itself, but behaves like a sign pointing to the irreducible mystery that we find ourselves in.
You guys are amazing and I love you and thank you for the support you’ve shown me through my own struggles lately.
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