Savvy womens Magazine

Love is Infinite - Pass it on

by Kathy Wooton, M.D.

I got a call from my son’s guidance counselor today.   I feared the worst, that my son had caused his class to revolt, or he had forgotten his homework in all subjects, or had started a food fight of epic proportions.   For all I knew, he had done all three, and it wasn’t even noon.

My son has always been quite the spirited young man.   I was prepared to hear a litany of complaints from his counselor.   I was prepared for his imminent suspension.   I thought I was prepared for anything the counselor would tell me.   I wasn’t.

One of my son’s friends was killed last night.   He was returning from a concert when he lost his life in a car accident.   He was a high school sophomore.

Students at the school were given the option to go home, to grieve with a loved one close by.   I was called to be that loved one, for my son.

While driving to the school, I tried to come up with the right things to say to him.   Circle of life analogies, life is fleeting sentiments; I entertained them and tossed them aside.   I knew I’d have to listen to his thoughts and feelings, and word my responses based on them.   I was nervous, as I hadn’t a clue as to what I would say.

When I arrived at school, my son greeted me with a big hug.   As he gathered his belongings, I went to the main office and signed him out.   As I laid down the pen, my son approached and started telling me of his friend.

Arm in arm, descending the stairs, my son told me of his most cherished memory of this departed student.   It was two and one half years ago, at a middle school fair.   This student told my son that it was cool to be a nerd (they were both self-professed nerds; although smart, sensitive young men was more accurate a description).   To proclaim their pride in their nerd status, both boys decorated their “create your own T-shirt” T-shirts with the slogan “I’m a nerd and I’m proud”.   My son came home emboldened by their proclamation.   He actually stood taller the rest of that school year, knowing it was okay to be himself.   I was very grateful to this young man for sharing his pride with my son.

When we got to the car, the questions started.   Existential questions, like where our spirits go when we die?, is there an afterlife?, things of that ilk.   My son knew that our spirits continue, but was puzzled with the ever-present question of existence - why are we finite beings when our spirits are infinite?   Religions, holy people and philosophers ponder that question as a calling.   I said a quick, silent prayer, and gave him this answer, straight from the heart.

Life is a gift.   Every person who we hold dear, our family and our friends, share this gift with us.   Life is not something we give ourselves, it is given to us, and it is finite.   The love we give to each other is infinite.   We pass it on to our family and friends much like the passing of a sacred candle.   The fire burns as it is passed to each unlit candle, and continues long after the original candles have gone dim.
One candle, one blessed light, has gone dim too soon, but the love, the pride, the humor and the generosity of this young man’s spirit will burn far beyond his time among us.   His family, his friends, his teachers, his classmates, will pass that light far beyond the reach of that young man’s single candle.

I’m pretty sure my son understood my answer, but I know it will take time before his world feels right again.

My wish for you is to marvel at the gift of life we have been given, to embrace the infinite love that comes with life, and to pass the light of love as far as it will travel.   The loss of a friend is a poignant reminder that although life is a gift, it is fleeting.   Pass the love far and wide, while you can.

©2008 Kathleen M. Wooton, M.D.

About the Author:
Kathleen Wooton, M.D. describes herself as a budding humorist when she's not fulfilling her other roles as a physician, wife, mother and pet owner. She says being a woman in today's complex world requires some re-evaluation of some time-honored traditions.