One of our own is at services today for his older sister. Four months ago, she was diagnosed with a rare cancer that moved much faster than the original prediction of 3 years time left. Far too many of us have seen the devastation and utter horror of what cancer does, how indiscriminate it is and how ruthless it remains.
There is nothing more human than the moment we begin life and the moment we end life. There is nothing harder we do than say goodbye to those we have shared life with. For those remaining, the unimaginable becomes the reality, and life is never really quite the same. We learn again how to smile, sleep, laugh and weep – but it all feels different now.
This is the basis by which our humanity links us together. There is no border, no religion, no race, no culture and no tradition that makes the transition from life to death and the act of saying goodbye less painful or more poignant.
At the scenes of disasters, we witness humanity doing what it does best – caring for humanity. We see strangers helping someone they have never met, risking their own lives to do the right thing. During times of war, we witness images that give grim details and we pray, pledge funds and respond to those innocent victims who have suffered. We help in floods, earthquakes, hurricanes and tsunamis, forgetting any policy differences and border disputes in times of crisis.
Why, then, do we see what we do in the world today? If we could understand each other as all humanity trying to get through the same battle, would we be unified like we are when faced with natural disaster? Would there be a need for movements like “Black Lives Matter” and “Take On Hate” if we refused to let our judgement see anything except mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters?
When can we stop saying goodbye long enough to starrt saying hello? Don’t we owe that to ourselves and each other?
Our heart breaks for our brother and his family. Tomorrow it will break for someone else, perhaps half a world away. Unfortunately, life means we will all encounter this sorrow as part of being who and what we are. But we will never forget what it means to be human, and it is with this spirit that we continue with all we do.