Dear Saint Peregrine…



So many people have been passing away from cancer this week. I wish it could stop.

Death has been constantly on my mind ever since I first lost somebody I loved. It was their time, I know, but it hurt me because that person mattered to me. I have people in my life who are growing old and I wonder when their time will come. I wonder about Pope Benedict. My heart broke when I saw him walking through the Doors of Mercy with an assistant at his side.

I’ve never seen a dead body. I’ve lost people in the past, but it always happened at a distance until I got older. It’s never easy to understand. It’s always sudden. And it’s always painful.

To paraphrase this monologue from a show I watch: “I don’t understand how this all happens. How we go through this. I mean, I knew her, and then she’s- There’s just a body, and I don’t understand why she just can’t get back in it and not be dead anymore. It’s stupid. It’s mortal and stupid. And-and people are crying and not talking, and-and I was having fruit punch, and I thought, well, they will never have any more fruit punch ever, and they’ll never have eggs, or yawn or brush their hair, not ever, and no one will explain to me why.”

What hurts more is when people lack empathy when I try to make sense out of the senselessness of death, bringing to mind how millions of starving children in Africa are dying everyday. That lack of empathy hurts.

It doesn’t matter to me that I never knew these people and that they never knew me. These are people whose light shined into others’ lives. Somebody out there has just lost a husband, a father, a son, a mother, a daughter, a wife. Even though the people who have been dying this week have been as distant to me as the stars in the sky, the light from these people shined into my life. And now their stars have gone out.

Saint Peregrine, pray for the souls of everyone who has passed away from cancer this week. May God’s perpetual light shine upon them. And may we all try to make sense out of this senseless death with empathy and compassion.

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