Life has a way of working itself out. I saw a presentation once by former Attorney General Michael Bryant. He had been charged with manslaughter after hitting a cyclist and killing him. Needless to say, his life was in turmoil for quite a while but in the end he got through it and came out the other side a better person. One of the slides in his presentation was in jest, but with a serious underlying truth. It read: “Everything will be OK in the end; if it’s not OK, it’s not the end.”
Today, our ten-year-old came home from school and told me about his friend whose grandfather had died. He qualified his next statement by saying, “No one likes to go to funerals, but I think it would be nice for my friend if I was there for him.”
How many kids ten years of age say things like that?
This unusual understanding and empathy in such a young boy reminded me that there are so many good things that have come from his sister’s death, and as I listed them in my head, this seemed particularly heart-warming.
However, if someone had told me shortly after Stefanie’s brutal murder that, eventually, all would be well and that someday I would be able to see the good that would come out of something so horrific, so evil, I would not have believed it.
But there he was, more mature than many adults, able to relate to his classmate due to his own life experience.
As I look back throughout my lifetime at the most difficult moments, it’s easy to see now all the good that resulted from those incidents—friendships that have formed, relationships that have strengthened, a less egocentric view of life, renewed faith, a desire to do good, a more humanitarian lifestyle… and the list goes on.
Of course, at the time, none of that would have mattered to me and, in the case of Stefanie’s death, I would have gladly given up any future “benefits” to have her back.
Sadly, we cannot change the past, but to listen to a little boy and realize that he truly understands the impact of loss enough to want to help his friend, gives me a happy glimpse into his world and his future.
If I were to die tomorrow, I would be at peace knowing he will be a caring, upstanding and productive member of society, and that my job—at least the hardest part—is already done.
Of course, I’m grateful most of all to Stefanie for the gift of kindness she has given all the people whose lives she touched, but particularly her siblings. They have learned to thrive in adversity and will use those skills for the rest of their lives.
Life continues to throw curve balls at us all, some minor and some not. I’m not immune to life’s ups and downs just because of our tragic loss. I still get wrapped up in the smaller injustices of life.
But today was a beautiful reminder that if we can trust that we will be OK in the end, we can all get through the tough times.
And as the comic strip said, “If it’s not OK, it’s not the end.” Be patient, and all will be well.