Losing Lila

Our worst fears have been realized, yesterday morning, October 18, 2012, Lila (Lila Gail Morse) lost her battle with cancer. On November 7 she would have been two years old.  She was the joy of her parents, her grandparents and her friends–who considered themselves to be her family.  We considered her to be our family.

Lila was so young, so in love with life, and so full of the future. She was smart as a whip and charmed everyone around her.  We are assured that she passed away peacefully in the arms of her parents, surrounded by her family.

Her death, which occurred so close in time to the beginning of her life, is reason enough to rage against God.  But my feelings are not those of her parents. Miriam and Michael have chosen to affirm life. Throughout her short life, her parents, as much as it is humanly possibly, chose joy over grief, living each precious day with their child as a gift to be savored.  They filed their child’s life with joy and expected that those who surrounded her also fill Lila’s world with happiness.  Her mother sent an email to close friends (and they are many), shortly after Lila’s death, that began:  Baruch Dayan Emet. 

Like many of Lila’s gentile friends, I did not understand the significance of these words.  Another friend googled the term and based on her research pointed us to jttp://www/jewishvaluesonline.org/621, which tells us that “Baruch Dayan Emet” is a Jewish blessing to be recited on hearing any form of bad news, particularly a death.  The Mishna [1] advises that a person is required to praise God for both the good and the bad and to love God with all our heart, whether circumstances are good or bad.  It also includes an affirmation that God is just even in the face of such tragedies.

Our grief is overwhelming.  It is nothing in comparison to the grief of her parents and family.  Her family’s affirmation of faith and strength in the face of such great loss is a reflection of the values of this wonderful family in this great tragedy.

I do not begin to understand life’s great joys and certainly life’s great tragedies.  But I am reminded of the importance of holding our friends and family close to our hearts as we support Lila’s family in this time of great loss.  Lila, we will miss you.

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[1]The Mishna is oral Jewish law set down by Rabbi Judah the Prince, a 2nd century CE rabbi.

Loving Lila

There are few joys in life more gratifying than the relationships we have with children.  They represent pure love and a joy that is unparalleled.  We thrive on their unconditional faith that we can make all things right.  But sometimes we cannot protect them from life’s great challenges. That is the case with Lila.

She is so young and so loved, surrounded by family and friends who have treasured her since before she was born.  Now Lila is ill.  The same loving community that has sought to love and protect her is now focused, for the next days, weeks, and months, on every step of her diagnosis, her treatment, her care and her recovery.  The outpouring of love and support for Lila and her family forms a protective shield around her as though to protect her from the dangers in her own body.  If love alone could cure, she would not be struggling now.

As I write this I am aware that there are many children just like Lila.  Children who are ill or injured.  Children whose families love them as we love Lila.  These children are no less precious.  Their pain is no less overwhelming.  Their fear no less all-consuming.  Committed families and friends draw on personal and spiritual communities as we place our precious children in the care of skilled physicians and pediatric specialists.

Surely there is no good that diminishes the suffering, no words that lessen the burden. Yet, somehow the love of a supportive community and the compassionate care of high quality doctors and nurses help Lila and her family navigate through the perils and fear.  Lila, and all the children like Lila, move through each step toward the future holding our hearts in their hands.  Be safe, Lila.