Facing absence, uncertainty and senseless loss

I sat down to dinner with my children, a big hole was felt as the customary seat my husband fills was empty and dinner was mostly a quiet affair.  I usually don’t sleep well when he is not around – 14 years of marraige will do that, I guess.   I worry. Is he ok? I anticipate his arrival. I am simply off beat, slightly restless, looking for things to fill up my time till he returns.   Tonight I say a little prayer for us, I can’t bear to imagine his absence and hop I will find solace in his return soon.

Olaia is still thinking of our earlier conversation, “Mom I am so thankful I did not live in the time of the Nazi’s…” -Yes, the house has been in a somewhat somber mood – Olaia’s cousin Mariam had a clever English teacher invite children to carry out an extra credit project re-enacting parts of Anne Frank’s experience.  Intrigued by the challenge, Mariam has decided to take on the experiment adding the twist of having Olaia partake of it. Both girls are to be in a closed room with no technology on hand, in strict silence for 10 hours a day. Olaia thought at first it was some turn of the 18th Century reenactment, then I explained the terror and hardship endured by Anne Frank and her family.

“I am thankful too, Olaia. It was a dreadful moment to live and witness” I added. Olaia then chimed in a short lived confidence, “I am glad that doesn’t happen now. Why did they do that to the Jews?”  I explained her that her assertion was wrong. Why does not matter.  It could have been us.  It could have been any arbitrary made up group… that is what we have to remember. In fact, today, in Africa Christians are killed because they are not Muslim. Outright prejudice and violence is never justified.

I wanted our daughter to have something to hold on as she peered with me over the edge of the senseless abyss of human violence. So I added

“You have to remember what we believe: God loves us all, without need for justification. His love is a gift. But just as important, remember that bad things happen to good people all the time. Accidents, violence, no one ever deserves any such fate. This is not God’s plan. The question is what are we going to do, so long as we live to let his love shine through so us so we can be light and hope in this world.”

And as I finished the thought, I was reminded of one light that is no more. I prayed with my children for our cousins, for our aunt. Not too far removed from us, a husband, a father is absent, never to return.  My heart aches as I barely fathom what pain overwhelms the family.