Thoughts about the paradox of life and death

There is nothing like the death of your child to open the floodgates of philosophical thought. I was prone to philosophical thought before this personal earthquake, but the explosion has split open veins of thought in my mind that were sealed tight before. Not a painless process. Now that I’ve said that I realize that nothing I will write today is going to be original — no one has travelled my exact path but many have travelled similar debris-strewn trails. The earmarks of war are the same, whatever the country.

When he was five.

So I’ve been thinking mostly about him, my Jesse, and how he was never really “mine” and how much of my pain comes from my assumption that he was. He was only mine to care for and to guide and to love for a time. The love gets to stay forever but the being part of my day-to-day life is over, torn away like skin or a limb. I think a lot about where he is now. Part of me knows that if my mind were right I would be happy that he is in a place where there is no anxiety about tomorrow or whether someone loves you, where there is no suffering, and where he is out of danger of all the horrors that can happen in this world, and how, having passed through the gate of death he is beyond its lurking reach, immunized – the ultimate paradox.

He is in the place where death meets life and life wins, because Jesus came a couple thousand years and fixed the human death problem. It could have been and perhaps it once was that when life met death, death would win. But a good God, a God who creates and loves existence, could not let such nihilism have its way. If I believe in meaning at all over nonsense, order over chaos, even something over nothing, then it is simply logical to believe that life wins over death.

Logically and rationally I do know Jesse lives and is beyond the reach of death and suffering, living in joy in a place permeated with love and creativity. I have read a lot of near death experiences and many of them say how it is difficult and depressing to come back from there. Unfortunately I am not an entirely rational being. Emotionally I am wired to desire the physical presence of my son. I just plain miss him and mourn for the many years I think I should have had to spend with him, to see him develop into the man he would have been.

The hardest thing is that he was so with me, so interwoven into my being, my heart, my soul, such a fixture in my life — yet not just a fixture but a being who absorbed all that I am since before he was born. We had a special way of speaking to each other, special words, special inflections that were only between us. So much of me was poured into him and now that he’s gone somewhere else, he has taken all that “me” energy with him. I am somehow still alive, but it’s as if I have lost half my blood. Eventually perhaps I will reconstitute.

But I don’t see how. It’s not the same as blood either. What has gone missing is not a generic substance that can be replaced by more of the same. The life energy I gave was produced and customized specifically for Jesse. Of course he had grown into his own unique person. He had grown up in ways that surprised and delighted me because he was so much different from myself. It is sort of like you plant a tree and expect it to produce a certain kind of fruit based on the nourishment you give it. But the tree takes your nourishment and uses it in unique ways, producing an entirely new and unexpected but incredibly delicious fruit. Yet you can still trace how it came from that tree.

I am sorry my metaphors are strained. I am struggling to understand what has happened and all its implications. I have never gone through anything so wrenching before and I pray I never will again. To seek understanding I have to let my thoughts go where they will even if it means they turn into strained, painfully stretched, misshapen metaphors. Perhaps someday something of beauty will form — the right words, the perfect analogy. But as with so many things, I am not there yet.



Author: CJ

Blogger, illustrator, writer

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