For us all

I read an article on the Wild Hunt blog yesterday, about a boy who recently passed from this world after a fight with cancer that lasted for two years. I was touched by the article, and I was touched by the outpouring of support that has come from the Pagan community in general. For anyone who might be interested, here is a link to the article I’m referring to:

United in grief: Thor von Reichmuth (2007 – 2015)

This story is one I can relate to. I can’t say that I ‘know’ this story, as I do not know the von Reichmuth’s personally; and I will also not pretend as though I understand what has happened, or why it has happened. I can only express sympathy and condolences, and wish strength to the von Reichmuth family. I can say that it is my strong belief that young Thor is now in a place where he is beyond the reach of suffering. It is this belief that enabled me to withstand the loss of my daughter, who came to me when I was just barely a man, and whose one and a half year’s stay in this world seemed all too brief. She also battled with cancer, with leukemia – toward the end, fighting the leukemia meant allowing the pneumonia to strengthen its hold on her, and fighting the pneumonia allowed the leukemia to worsen. The decision was made to allow the pain killers to end her suffering and stop the tug-of-war being played out across her body.

I’ve enjoyed storms my entire life – I’ve said numerous times before, the storm is my personal element. Upon my daughter’s death, which came only shortly after I lost my brother, the lines holding me steady snapped, and I found myself adrift in a storm that would never end. I was adrift for a very long time, and that storm still rages in me. While I have learned much about death over the years, and while my journeys through the storm have shown me some rather profound things, I do not pretend that I understand why the little ones must sometimes leave us in such a way. I understand Nature well enough to accept that it must sometimes be this way; but that is not the same as understanding why it must sometimes be so.

Eventually, the right combination of events took place, and I found myself able to navigate in the storm again, and I found a way to achieve my own sense of calm within the storm. I think this is something we are all capable of, it just takes some of us longer than others, and requires a different combination of events to take place … we are each different from one another, this is only to be expected.

The presence of a child touches us profoundly in so many ways – the loss of a child touches us no less profoundly. It takes time, I think, to be able to look beyond the loss and the pain, to see the fond memories again and greet them with an honest smile. When we break a bone, it takes time before we are able to move and act freely. The pain is not our enemy, it is what reminds us that we need to give ourselves the room and time we need to heal. With the psyche, I believe the same principle applies … it’s simply more complicated because we can see someone in a cast, or on crutches, and ‘see’ the pain they are in and their need for healing.

Eventually, though, the understanding comes that our loss is not what we first thought it was. Yes, something was taken from us – someone very real and very dear was changed into a memory, or collection of memories – but this does not mean that this person was taken from us. We have the memories, we retain the gift of that person’s presence in our lives, and the ways in which that presence changed our very souls. Death is a natural process, it is erroneous to think that it ‘ends’ anything, as our energy cannot be destroyed – death simply changes. If we remember this, and if we cherish the gifts given to us by those who spend time with us in our lives, death’s ability to ‘take’ from us is only as strong as we allow it to be.

Somewhat uncharacteristically, I chose not to leave a comment to the article posted to the Wild Hunt. I think the Pagan community is quite charged with support and prayers for this family, and a comment left by me on another blog would not really add anything to this. I wanted to say something about the subject, though, as it is something that carries deep meaning to me; and, after some reflection, I decided that here, in my own blog, would be the proper place to speak my peace on the matter. There are many of us who have had to watch a child die – most of us have watched a loved one die, and all of us will someday have to look upon the pained faces of our loved ones as it becomes our own turn to journey onward from the life we’ve known. This is not something particular to any religion, to any culture, or even to any race of being. It is a process of Nature, and as children of Nature, it is a part of our process of being, as well. We cannot stop this process, and we are all of us connected by it. We can, however, take time to more deeply appreciate the presence of others in our lives, and continue to do so even after their journey calls them ahead of us. To the von Reichmuth family, to all of us, I wish the strength and presence of mind to do just this. To the spirit of young Thor von Reichmuth: I hope you are smiling now, beyond the reach of suffering, with the faith that your family and friends will remain strong and continue to love you, and with the knowledge that in your seven years of life, you touched a multitude of souls in a very positive way.

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