When we’re kids, we’re told that there’s no such thing as a stupid question. Asking questions is how we learn, grow, and connect with the people around us. We’re encouraged and rewarded for our inquisitiveness. I’ve even heard people say that it’s a sign of intelligence. The more curious we are, the further we go in life. I don’t know if that’s true, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
We’re curious, we ask questions, but then something bad happens to us. An accident, an illness, an act of violence or loss. What happens to our curiosity then? Well, we ask the obvious question: Why me? Why did this happen to me? I don’t understand why. Can someone tell me why?
This is when we discover that there is, in fact, a question we should never ask.
When I was three, I was diagnosed with chronic renal failure. There was an act of, what doctors call, medical misadventure and my kidneys were damaged. There was nothing we could do but wait for them to shut down and pray that didn’t happen for a very long time.
As soon as puberty hit, my renal function plummeted. I went on dialysis, and we began the workup for a kidney transplant. The next seven years were excruciating. Countless surgeries, tests, needles, a couple of transplants and one that failed. I want to give you more details, but my memories are scattered. Everything hurt so much! I must’ve blocked most of it out. A lot of the details are gone, or I don’t want to remember.
I do remember the friends who lost the battle. Their bodies were too small. This disease was too big. They tried so hard to fight but the fight was insurmountable. Those losses were hard but when I think of these friends I don’t remember their scars. I remember their smiling faces. The way they laughed. The games we played. The hugs we shared and the time we spent together. I remember them with a heart full of love and longing.
I remember dying and being sent back to a broken body.
I remember the prayers and the cards wishing me well.
I remember the phone call that saved my life, and I remember the person who’s life ended so I could live. We don’t know his name or his story but we know he was generous and kind. We know that the people who loved him were heroes. I’ll always remember him and what he gave me.
Years later, struggling to process everything I went through and all of those losses, I dared to ask, “Why me?”
The response was, “Why not you? You want someone else to go through all that?”
What? No! Of course not! I wouldn’t wish this on anyone else. I wish none of this happened to any of us! Kyle, Jacob, Jen, and a dozen others. They lost their lives to this damn disease. I wish they were still here. I wish I could see them smile and play silly games. They didn’t deserve what happened to them anymore than I did.
Then why not you? Because it hurt! Because I don’t want to hurt anymore. Because it sucks. Because…I don’t know why it happened to me!
If we ask, we’re told that the question is selfish. We’re told that it’s a sign of weakness. We’re told to stop the pity party and buck up. They tell us that, “At least it didn’t happen to someone you love.”
Me too! I’m so happy this didn’t happen to my parents, brother, family, and friends. But it did happen to me and, God, it sucks.
When bad things happen to you, it doesn’t mean it won’t happen to me. Life isn’t a horribly cut pie. I might get a bigger slice, but you won’t miss out. There’s enough to go around which is why we all have a story to tell. We have our ghosts and our scars. We cry and ask: Why me? Why did I get this slice of that pie?
Asking that question isn’t a pity party but a cry of grief, frustration, and pain. We’re reaching out for comfort. We’re trying to make sense of the senseless. We’re trying to restore some semblance of order amid chaos. We’re hurting, and we need to vent because holding it in multiples the pain tenfold.
Why not you?
That question kills the conversation and shuts a door that’s very hard to reopen. Pain, shame, and guilt glue the hinges. It silences a voice that, for a brief moment, found enough strength to speak up. Instead of holding the grief in, for the sake of stoicism, we let it out and we reached out. The attempt may have been clumsy, but it was still courageous.
We asked the question but the question isn’t about the answer. It’s about the weight of our emotions. It’s a hand in need of holding. It’s about companionship, friendship, and compassion. It’s a need to be seen and heard. It’s about grieving with a trusted friend. It’s a cry for help, not a question looking for answers.
We can’t answer the unanswerable question. No one knows why we suffer only that we do. There’s nothing we can say that will ease the pain. Nothing we say will satisfy curiosity because suffering is beyond human understanding. Words, as much power as they have, can’t solve a problem that’s plagued humanity for thousands of years.
I don’t know but I’m sorry you’re going through hell right now. It sucks, it’s messed up, and I’d do anything to make it stop. I can’t do that, but I can be here for you. There’s a shoulder to cry on and a hand to hold. When life gets too heavy, lean on me and I’ll hold you up. Need a laugh? Need some food? Need some company? What do you need?
That’s the response I need when I’m at my lowest because asking that question comes when life has me on my knees. When I’m good, I’m strong and don’t need to ask. When I’m weak? When I’m broken? When the tears won’t stop? That’s when I need a friend who’ll listen.
Don’t shut down a cry for help from someone else and, just as importantly, don’t shut yourself down. When we ask ourselves that question, be kind. Recognize it for what it is and give an ounce of grace. We’re struggling. We’re in pain. Life is hard. We all have too much to carry. I don’t know about you, but I’m getting kinda tired.
When our memories overwhelm us or we’re trying to put them back together; remember that there is no such thing as a stupid question. Sometimes our questions are a pain response. Sometimes they’re a cry for help. Sometimes we need to ask so we can heal and move on.
Thank-you Ruby! Your comment inspired this post. I read your comments and they mean a lot so leave your thoughts down below. Like, subscribe, and I’ll see you next week.