Yesterday I went with my in-laws to design Ralf’s tombstone. It was completely surreal. I couldn’t believe we were having conversations about what granite color he would have liked, what cross he would have chosen. I couldn’t help but feel like the whole thing shouldn’t have been happening, like we shouldn’t have had to be there. That I should have been at home with Ralf, watching him frustratedly yet ever so lovingly build our son’s crib, or bassinet, or Pack-n-Play. That Ralf should be around to complain about me stealing all his t-shirts because none of mine fit my humongous belly, or to ask “Again?!” when I get out of bed for the 18th time to pee in the middle of the night. We should be enjoying my last few weeks of pregnancy together, knowing that our married life will change soon, but that it will be worth it. Instead, the only person whose life has completely flipped upside down is mine. I’m still excited to meet our son, but I am honestly more terrified. Becoming a mom is scary enough to begin with, but the thought of having to learn to become a parent on my own without my partner is sometimes more than I can take. I went to bed with a very heavy heart.
So many people keep telling me to remember that everything happens for a reason- that this is all part of God’s mysterious yet perfect plan. I do believe that God has a plan, but my interpretation may be slightly different from how others see it. I don’t – actually, I CAN’T believe in a God that would cause my 28-year-old husband of less than 4 years to die unexpectedly from a vicious disease, all to teach me some valuable lesson about the fragility and brevity of life, or to make me a stronger person. Especially not while expecting our first child together. I refuse to believe in a God so cruel.
The God that I believe in is just as saddened and angry as I am about the unfairness of this entire situation. God did not cause this to happen. Just as God did not cause the recent earthquake in Nepal. These incidents were acts of nature, which has free will just as we human beings do. Does God know what’s going to happen before it happens? Yes. But it doesn’t mean he can stop these disasters or injustices from occurring. It’s difficult (perhaps impossible) for our human minds to comprehend.
The God that I believe in brought Ralf into my life early so that I would have more time to love him, because he knew that his life would unfortunately be cut short. The God that I believe in spared Ralf of the agony he would have endured had he not suffered that hemorrhage during his final days. Had it not been for the bleed, he would have had the biopsy done, would have been obsessing for weeks about the results which would ultimately be heartbreaking, and then subsequently have to await surgery and watch his body deteriorate while living with the knowledge that he would die soon. Instead, he lost consciousness and went peacefully and without pain, never even knowing he went into surgery. Most importantly, the God that I believe in blessed me with the little life growing inside of me so that I could continue to have a piece of Ralf here on this earth even after his passing.
A few weeks ago at mass, Father Bob Vallee said something that really struck me. He was talking about St. Thomas the Apostle, also known as Doubting Thomas, and he said that being a faithful follower of Christ does not mean one shouldn’t use his or her brain. A true Christian does not simply follow blindly – he knows what he believes and why he believes it.
So, yes, I do believe that “everything happens for a reason” but it’s important to understand that this philosophy is much more complicated and profound than it appears on the surface.