Thursday, February 25, 2010
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
“A man is a very small thing, and the night is very large and full of wonders.”
Lord Dunsany (Whoever he was)
OK, so I'm a little nuts but that pile of junk makes me want to go on a little treasure hunt. Does any one else wonder what is in that pile of scrap? Maybe it is just me. Sigh.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
I've been avoiding posting because I've not wanted to report my bad news. It is the worst news of all. Many of you already know that my nephew, Carter, passed away last week. He was 2-1/2 and had neuroblastoma--a cancer as aggressive and as lethal as any I've heard of. As recently as December we were still hopeful for a cure but a scan revealed bone metastases and a later scan revealed that the primary tumor that had responded well to the first rounds of chemotherapy had regrown with a vengeance.
A bit over a week ago, I flew out to Seattle to visit Carter and his parents in the hospital. His little belly was swollen with tumor and he was having trouble breathing due to pressure on his lungs. Otherwise he seemed comfortable and in good hands. The hospital was tremendous through this ordeal--he was at Seattle Children's Hospital--and Carter's parents, my brother and sister-in-law were possessed of saintly patience and courage. Carter passed away the next day.
The funeral was the saddest I have ever been to. I'd guess there were around a hundred people present and I believe everyone was in tears throughout. Who couldn't cry when faced with bereaved parents and a tiny coffin? Just saying this is making me cry and I want to avoid that. There is a time and a place and I don't want to cry any more today.
Finally, I wanted to share something that I learned from this ordeal. I learned that a trial like this really does bring people together. It has brought to me in a much more immediate way the importance of family, friends and community. Even sharing with relative strangers, my blog and Facebook friends, some, people I have never met in person, has helped me cope and the support of everyone has been a source of comfort and carried me through these times. I know my brother and his family have had even more support and kindness over these past months and hope that it will help them heal as best they can.
Well, I had to get this over with. I intend to try to return to my regularly scheduled blog activities from here on in. Avoiding grief doesn't make it less, though and I couldn't move on with out ending Carter's story here.
These are the words that go through my head:
Fading light dims the sight,
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright.
From afar drawing nigh -- Falls the night.
Day is done, gone the sun,
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky;
All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.
Then good night, peaceful night,
Till the light of the dawn shineth bright;
God is near, do not fear -- Friend, good night.
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
Albert Einstein once made this famous declaration about quantum mechanics. Actually, he apparently has been paraphrased and what he really said was:
"Quantum mechanics is certainly imposing. But an inner voice tells me that it is not yet the real thing. The theory says a lot, but does not really bring us any closer to the secret of the 'old one'. I, at any rate, am convinced that He does not throw dice." Amusingly, Niels Bohr once responded to a similar statement by Einstein:
"Einstein, please quit telling G-d what to do," (quoted by Walter Isaacson).
In my search for the background to Einstein's quote, I found the following by Terry Pratchett:
"G-d does not play dice with the universe; He plays an ineffable game of his own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players, to being involved in an obscure and complex version of poker in a pitch dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a dealer who won't tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time."
Why am I quoting random authors and physicists about G-d? The short answer is that I saw Einstein quoted by Harold Kushner in "When Bad Things Happen to Good People." I keep picking this book up both to help me advise my unfortunate patients and to settle my own spiritual crisis. Kushner does a good job in the consolation line and he comes by it honestly having lost his own son to a genetic disease.
Cancer keeps cropping up in my life, both professionally and personally and I am lately often in a bit of shock. I've spoken here about my nephew and the latest news is that things have turned very bad. His tumor has metastasized and is growing aggressively. At this point there seems very little hope. I might be sounding a bit too intellectual about this in my writing but in reality I'm confused, scared, bereft and feeling a lot of pain. My baby brother that I played surrogate parent to for years is about to lose his son. How can that happen? Why are we all so helpless to do anything?
No, I don't think that G-d is playing games with us. And I have no stake in having anyone else believe as I do, especially since I have so much trouble articulating what I believe, even to myself. Right now I find myself agreeing with Pratchett. I still hold that life worth the pain it brings but today I don't feel like I'm holding all the cards I want.