Why Some Die and Others Don’t

I had a great talk with Ricardo yesterday as we were walking around “The Rio.” As a background, I have a friend whose mother just suffered a traumatic brain injury after falling off an unfinished deck. From the sound of it, she “should” be able to wake up and have some good recovery, but she is not. She remains in a vegetative state about a month after the accident. My heart really just goes out to this woman and those who love her.

Some people die that should be okay, and some people, like Ricardo, recover, when, statistically speaking, they shouldn’t have.

It brought me all back to those same big questions that I have been battling with for years now. Is there a God? Is there some degree of fate in who lives and who dies? Or is it all just luck?

Honestly, I don’t know.

I was asking Ricardo what he thought of all this. At first he said he felt he was meant to survive. Then as I told the story of my friend’s mother, he said he thought who lives and who dies is all just random. When I reminded him of some other life experiences he had, he said he felt there was some sort of God, but that God was nothing like what any religion claims he/she/it is.

He doesn’t know either, but he seemed okay with not knowing.

When Ricardo suffered a brain hemorrhage, I sat there in the crowded waiting room, with my sweater over my head, hyperventilating, truly believing Ricardo was going to die. I believed the statistics, and chances were he wasn’t going to make it. I prayed a few desperate prayers, begging that he would be healed, all the while doubting there was anyone listening–praying to a God that I don’t believe in. It hurt worse in some ways because I felt robbed of the peace I would have felt 3 years earlier when I would have just turned the whole situation over to God believing that if Ricardo was meant to survive he would miraculously recover, and my prayers would help. After a while I started telling myself, “I have to pull myself together.” “I have to be strong now; Ricardo needs me; my son needs me; I need to be strong.” “Maybe he will survive, I still don’t know.” Finally I stopped hyperventilating. “I want him to survive, even if he is never the same again.” And there it was–my hope–some realistic possibility that I could hope for, no far fetched ideal, and I focused on that and was able to relax a little bit and more calmly accept the fate I was to face.

Here I am, 5 months and 10 days after Ricardo’s hemorrhage and he has clearly defied all odds. A walking, talking, breathing miracle, many would say. I, with hesitation, say that too.

Do I believe in miracles? Do I believe in God? It troubles me to no end to say that I realistically just don’t know. Logically, it makes more sense to me that there is no God. Too many people are stoned to death or starving, pray for relief, and never find it. Why would God grant me a miracle in allowing Ricardo to survive and yet do nothing for the Nigerian girls who were recently captured or the students who were shot to death by some misogynistic fellow student who got turned down for too many dates. If he could save my husband he surely could have somehow saved all those as well. Logically, it just doesn’t all add up to me.

Then I search the depths of my heart. What do I really feel?

Connected and loved. I feel like someone or something is there. I feel that all the thousands of prayers made a difference in Ricardo’s recovery–created a positive energy, gave us all strength, something.

Deep down I think Ricardo has more he is supposed to do in this life, and that is part of why he made it, even though most who suffer his type and severity of brain hemorrhage do not make it.

In my heart I feel like we were being guided to continue our search and choose a different group of doctors to treat Ricardo, and that we ultimately made a mistake choosing the doctors we did, which then led to Ricardo’s hemorrhage. I think this because I had the same feeling of angst I have had other times when a decision I almost made would have turned out badly. Like the time I really wanted to move in with some of my cousins in college, and I just felt unsettled about it. I decided I was being prompted to not move in with them. Two months later the landlord had to kick half the tenants out because there were twice as many people living in the house as were legally permitted. I would have been kicked out of that apartment, wouldn’t have gotten to live with anyone I knew, and most likely never would have met Ricardo. I had the same unsettled feeling when we decided to do the embolization with the doctors we chose. Ultimately it was Ricardo’s decision and his mind was made up. Ricardo hemorrhaged after the procedure. I think if we had made a different choice he probably wouldn’t have hemorrhaged, and I think that was the scenario we were being guided towards. Ultimately, we made the choice we made, but I think Ricardo recovered so well because he was destined to live.

So how does it all work? Maybe much of life is randomness. But maybe we come to life where we do because we see the potential to get certain experiences out of certain situations. Maybe we are sent certain places to learn particular things. But in this world people get sick and people hurt each other, accidents happen, natural disasters happen. Maybe there is someone at the helm who has some limited ability to effect the outcome and she/he tries to help us all reach our potential and get out of life what we came to get. And maybe there are those who are trying to help us reach our potential who help us from time to time.

The logic might not work out, but deep down I feel like there is more to it.


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One Response to Why Some Die and Others Don’t

  1. Jennifer says:

    you are so good at reflecting. I used some of your “problem of evil” stuff in my writing. Good thoughts. Blessings and love to you and Ricardo!

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