Today, life can change in the blink of an eye. One day, you could be content and overjoyed with what you own and the next day be left with absolutely nothing. While there are no distinct reasons for the changes in life, it is up to us to make the best of those situations.
Just two weeks ago, my good friends had everything they needed and appreciated the blessings brought in their lives. They had lived happily with two loving parents and a firm relationship in G-d just two weeks ago. This family was optimistic and kind hearted, with no reason to feel empty or doubtful of theology. Then suddenly, with no preparation or sign, life changed for this family in the blink of an eye. Just one week ago, a sense of emptiness fell over my friends’ home, and due to various health issues, my friends lost their mother and are now counted among the other “mourners of Zion.”
Since the funeral, one, reoccurring thought has crossed my mind every time I see them: Where was G-d during all of this? What did my friends do to deserve the sadness brought into their home? Why must they feel this sudden suffering in just one week? How do we, as the friends and family, sustain enough faith in order to encourage mourners to keep faith?
While I usually turn to the book of Job for comfort, the verses just seemed so nonchalant in regards to this particular tragic situation. Usually after a loss of something minor, I would think of the famous verse in the first chapter, “Adonai natan v’Adonai lakach, y’hi shem Adoni y’vorach,” or “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord,” but G-d couldn’t have just “taken away” the beautiful mother of my friends so causally. It’s safe to say that though I am naïve, I do not understand the thoughts that must run through G-d’s mind before giving and taking.
While I struggled with my faith under these circumstances, my two friends remained unusually optimistic. I’ve seen more smiles than tears, more memories shared than silence, and more laughter than fits of anger. Of course there was initial sadness that a wonderful life was lost, but now, there is more happiness when thinking about the wonderful life that has lived, and will continue to live through the optimism inside my friends.
Rather than turning to atheism, my friend taught me a valuable lesson from this tragedy. She encouraged me to never feel regretful in life and to never take anyone for granted. Life can change in the blink of an eye, but the memories and love you feel with people are everlasting. She even trusts G-d to help her carry her mother’s legacy forward, while others would usually turn to doubt. Just one week ago, I was inspired by someone who appreciates life even after the shock she experienced. Today, I feel blessed.
Since then, I have yet to find any theological answers about the mysteries of life. I have yet to find the cures for cancers, illnesses, and other medical procedures that change lives so quickly. I have yet to miraculously relieve the state of shock that was suddenly brought into my friends’ home. I have, however, formed a new respect for the optimism expressed by the friends and family of these mourners. I have felt a new level of pride for my local Jewish community that gathered every night of the week to form a minyan, or a stable support system, for this family. While we all grieve for this loss, we all still carry a sense of hope that our optimism can assuage the shock and sadness that entered our lives just one week ago. Perhaps rather than relating the verse in Job to one person, we can relate it to the feeling of happiness that affects us every day. Perhaps G-d gives us instant and evident happiness on some days, and happiness that we must delve into further on other days. I realize that this past week, the happiness wasn’t as evident as a materialistic pleasure or the joy of having everything we needed two weeks ago, but the indirect happiness was found through the strong community formed around this family, and the sense of optimism and hope discovered within it. Never again will I take anyone in my community for granted.
From this moment forward, I can only pray for more comfort and love to be sent to my friends’ home. I pray that G-d will send clarity and reason to this family, as to why such shock entered their lives and continue to remain present in their lives. I pray that we will take the wise words of my optimistic friend and never take anyone for granted. Lastly, I pray that we, the Jewish community, will be able to find happiness even in the darkest of times, creating optimism and hope for the future. As I take comfort in knowing that there is not only a reason for every event that happens in life, but also a community that will support each other during those events. Life can change in the blink of an eye, but faith, hope, and optimism found within a community are everlasting.