anne mikolay 2018Fact of life: bad things happen to good people. Observing human reaction to those bad things is an education in itself. Watching one another’s true colors emerge as we each muddle through is an eye-opener, to be sure. Some people shine in their selflessness; others, not so much. Emotions run the gamut. There’s sadness, regret, guilt, anger, bewilderment, confusion, sometimes separately, sometimes all at once. And there’s exhaustion borne of it all. At times, you’re so overwhelmed that you just want to drop out of the situation altogether and hide somewhere it can’t find you, but you know you can’t, and if actually given the opportunity, you would not. Another fact of life: you can run, but you can’t hide.

When you watch someone you dearly love suffer through the dying process, you can’t help asking, “Why? Why?” I’ve asked that many times before, and the answer I’ve found is simply this: I can’t ask why. Here’s where God’s hand – and a touch of faith, I guess – comes in. We each walk this very personal journey toward the same destination, and just as I am not privy to your deepest thoughts or your soul’s yearnings along the way, I cannot know your life’s purpose or the lessons God has tried to teach you during your life. Thus, when your life draws to a close, I can’t know if your purpose here was fulfilled, or what God wanted you to learn through this last, painful experience. I can’t know why this trial was put upon you. I can only seek God’s lesson for me as I stand helplessly beside you. To take anything more than that upon myself is to leap headfirst into despair.

I’ve been through this scenario before. While watching a loved one die doesn’t get easier, one thing becomes increasingly apparent: witnessing a loved one’s dying days is a sacred privilege. At this moment, my brother-in-law is living his final chapter, and I have never before seen courage and selflessness such as his, nor have I seen such dignity and even humor in the face of death. My brother-in-law is an extraordinary man. And this last thing I will share with him, as much as he will allow me to share, is a sacred blessing I must be thankful for.

That being said, I’m no saint. I’m a tentative Christian at best. I look for God’s hand in all things. You know, “Jesus take the wheel” and all that. Sometimes, however, despite recognizing the Almighty’s presence in a tragic situation, the good Lord’s seemingly erratic “driving” knocks me for a loop, and I have to take a step back. Faith does not make all things clear, nor does it quell sorrow. Life’s latest trial has knocked me down. I know I’ll get back up again. I just don’t know when and whether I’ll be stronger or weaker remains to be seen. For now, though, I need time to decipher Life’s latest kick in the gut, so ’ll be away from the computer for a while. I humbly ask you to please keep my brother-in-law, John, and his family in your prayers, and I strongly urge you to hug your family each and every day as tightly as you can because bad things happen to good people..


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Anne Mikolay

Anne Mikolay

Anne M. Mikolay joined The Atlantic Highlands Herald as a columnist in 2008. Prior to penning “The Armchair Critic,” Anne wrote feature articles for The Monmouth Journal. Her work has appeared in national...