When it is dark enough, you can see the stars. – Persian proverb
Last week, my former boss’s son, age 18, was killed in an automobile accident. The accident was not his fault; in fact, it was no one’s fault. It was just a stupid accident that happened on a slippery interstate highway.
I went to the young man’s wake, or funeral visitation, the day before the actual funeral. I told my former boss (who still sort of seems like my boss because he has only NOT been my boss for about 5 weeks), how sorry I was. He thanked me and told me, with an air of calm, that he had concluded that God wanted to have his (my boss’s) son with Him in heaven, more than my boss and his wife wanted him on Earth. And he (my boss) seemed to believe it—and more, to accept it.
I tell you about this conversation thoughtfully, and without my tongue firmly embedded in my cheek the way it usually is when I hear religious-based “reasons” or “explanations” for bad things happening.
True, my boss doesn’t know anything more about the hereafter than I do. Anyone who claims to KNOW these things (not just believing) is just not credible. People may be utterly convinced, yes, but they don’t know.
However, I concede that my boss’s explanation seemed to truly comfort him, and what’s more, it even comforted me just a bit knowing that my boss and his family can take shelter in their beliefs and somehow endure their unimaginable grief.
I also concede that I can’t prove him wrong.
And I can’t come up with any acceptable version of the story, either, except to state that a delightful young man was needlessly killed in a stupid accident. I must admit that my version is not satisfying in any way. Not believing doesn’t add any value to the situation.
I don’t really know what to do with this thought, except admit that the entire situation is humbling. However one does it, accepting tragedy takes courage and enormous strength. My boss found a way to do it. I’ll be thinking about it for a long time.