When Kim and I were preparing to get married we spoke to a priest and a rabbi.

I need to pause there a second. “Preparing to get married”. Can you ever prepare for these big events in your life. We had time to think about the details of our wedding day and of the marriage we wanted to build afterwards. I’m not sure that prepared us. I wandered off on this aside because friends of ours came to the funeral home yesterday who had lost their grandson/nephew Simon at age seven after a long and painful illness. Simon’s mother has also posted in the comments to this blog. I’m sure that knowing he was coming to the end didn’t prepare them. I’m certain that they didn’t feel any more ready to say goodbye than we do after losing Elena in the matter of minutes.

The priest and rabbi asked different questions that were both directed at some of the same issues. I told the priest that I would not sign a paper promising to raise the children Catholic. He said that they didn’t do that anymore. That for him it was more important that the children were raised in a loving home with a strong religious presence than that this be a devisive issue. They did ask Kim, as the Catholic parent, to promise that she would do what she could to raise her children Catholic.

I liked the priest. He had a great sense of humor and an irreverence that was reverent. Just before our wedding rehearsel I said to him that Kim had told me that at many young Catholic boys want to grow up to be priests. He laughed and said, “and girls.” I know it’s dangerous to spend time thinking about what could have been, but Elena would have been a great priest (or rabbi, or minister, or . . .) She has an incredible way of wrapping people up in her energy and making them feel so good.

The priest had us fill out a Meyers-Briggs personality profile to investigate our compatibility. Kim and I each filled out two. One for ourselves and one for the other. For us, compatibility was an interesting thing to investigate, but it was more important for us to see how well we knew each other. We were very good at guessing how the other would answer each question.

The rabbi asked us a set of questions. One asked how we might bring her up religiously. The options were Catholic, Jewish, Both, or Neither. I was willing for the kids to be Jewish, Both, or Neither and Kim was ok with the kids being Catholic, Jewish, or Both. We  decided to try “Both” despite being warned by a different rabbi that our children would end up in a cult somewhere.

But the rabbi pressed. “What happens when you die?” he asked. I thought long and hard over the week between his asking and when we returned to his office.

“I don’t know,” I answered. “I think it is unknowable.”

He smiled and said that actually that was our party line. He asked Kim the same question. She spoke of heaven. He then asked her, “what happens to Daniel when he dies.” He explained that his concern was that, as he understood the issue, Christians believe that you must accept Jesus to go to heaven. He wanted to know how Kim would answer the children asking “what happens to daddy when he dies”.

She said that she believed that if you are a good person you will go to heaven. That what, to her, was important was a strong spiritual and moral core.

Today we bury our baby. I wonder if I would be more comforted by a strong faith in a religion that has very definite answers to what happens when you die. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not changing and neither is Kim. This has been a very difficult time for her. She and I both keep asking “what could we have done to save Elena? What did we miss?”

Kim also asks, “why”.

To me, there is no “why”. Horrible things happen and no one notices. We are numb to wars and so called natural disasters and don’t really understand all of the losses in these other places.

Published in: on February 27, 2006 at 6:48 am  Comments (7)  

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  1. I am sorry for your loss, and I understand how difficult it is – especially the “why” question. We lost our grandson last September to SIDS. There were lots of questions we asked ourselves, did we do something wrong, could we have done something differently, and mostly, why? I don’t think there is an answer, really, and coming to terms with that has been the hardest part of the adjustment.

    I wish your entire family well, and for blessings on you all.

  2. Sometimes, there is nothing you could have done differently… and in the end, you realize that if you had to do it all over, you would do everything exactly the same way…

    My prayers and warmest wishes are with you, Kim and Maggie on this day. I trust that my Gee will look out for Elena, and that we will see them again one day.

  3. Daniel, Kim, Maggie, Priscilla, Ira, Ethan and Jill:

    You are in our thoughts and prayers. Daniel: your stories are so beautiful. Thank you for sharing what you are going through and all the memories. The silly stories of Elena bring happiness and laughter. It helps keep her with us in our hearts and thoughts. It is so heartwarming to know that she had so many people love her.

    Love, Faith and Peace be with you,

    Cindy, Kirk, Johanna and Drew

  4. Daniel, Kim & Maggie,

    You probably don’t remember me–Ethan’s friend from law school, and now lucky enough also to be Rona’s friend as well–but I wanted to let you know how often you’ve been in my thoughts these last few days. I’m so sorry for your loss, and also feel so weak because I simply don’t know what to say or what to do help. I’ve looked at your posts and cried, of course, but it’s really hard to describe the overwhelming emotions I’ve experienced. Thank you for giving us this window into your family and for sharing with me and my family. I think that all of us will be better parents and I can’t help but think of your precious Elena every time I look at my daughter Bailey, who is also just shy of her 7th birthday. I know you have an incredible family that will provide you the support and love you will need, and please know that you also have the love from friends, friends of friends, and even strangers from all around the world.
    I wish I could be there with you simply just to give you all a hug.



  5. Dear Kim, Daniel, and Maggie–

    I have just been reading your blog, Daniel, and am quite overwhelmed by its eloquence. I feel that I now have a much better sense of you and Kim as parents and of the family. What an adorable little girl Elena was!

    The service today was beautiful and I especially admired the remarkable composure you and Kim showed. I can only dimly imagine the agony you must be going through.

    Nate joins me in letting you know that you are in our thoughts and that you have our love and support.

    Eva Greenberg

  6. Your blog has helped me overcome the sadness that I’ve felt over the death of Elena. I, myself, have a seven year old daugther. We live in the City of Avon. We had a case of bacterial meningitis here as well. The little girl that contracted it lives directly above me. She is now back in school and doing well. God spared her. For whatever reason, He felt that he needed Elena with him, despite the grief and pain her passing has bestowed on you, Kim and Maggie and your extended family and many friends. I cannot begin to understand how one could even get up each morning after such a horrible tragedy. I admire you and Kim more than you could ever know. God is giving you the courage, strength and perserverence to face each day. Although, I hear the pain expressed in your blog; I also hear the joy that Elena brought you while she was with you and this world. And I also hear the joy that she brought to so many people she touched and the world can only be a better place because she was in it. You and your family have been in mine and my daughter’s prayers every night as we get on our knees and each morning as we begin our day. As a mother, I cannot begin to comprehend your pain and how Kim must be trying to just cope day by day right now (I am not trying to undermine your pain, I am just trying to understand as a mother how one would just get up and fact the day). You and your family have given me a different outlook on life and how precious it is and how precious the ones we love are. Like you said, if everyone gave a stranger a nice hello and a sincere smile, many that are hurting might feel better. I have been thinking of you and your family on a very regular basis and even though I have never personally met any of you, I share your pain. God bless you, Kim and Maggie and may He give you the continued courage, faith and strength to get through this tragic and terribly sad time. I believe that even though Elena is not there with you physically; she is there with you spritually. I also believe in Angels and that she is one. That is just my belief.

  7. Today is her birthday not a day to grieve to question. It’s a day to smile, to celebrate Elena’s birth. Some may look at this day as a day of sadness others a day of pain and hurt. I look at this day as a gift from God for allowing Elena to step foot in our small world for a short while. When Elena was born i believe God had a plan from the start, for that little girl to change the lives of many which she has and still is through your words Daniel and everyone elses heart.

    Happy Birthday Dear Elena, Happy Birthday to our Angel.
    ♥ love forever


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