I am not sure why I am writing about this here or now. We don't do anything to mark this date, but the day passes and I catch myself thinking, Brian would have had his birthday today. Baby Kate came close to being born on the same day as her stillborn brother. He would have been 6 years old this year.
When he died, people tried to comfort me, but inside I seethed. No words about how he was in a better place or how children that die early were too pure for this mortal realm made me feel any better. It all rang hollow. I have always believed that there was a plan and a purpose to life, and this seemed to scream that life was full of pain and pointlessness and any plan that involved this was not one I wanted. I just couldn't see why God would do this to us, to me.
I read Connie Willis' book "To Say Nothing of the Dog" over and over again in the months after Brian was born. It is not a philosophy book, or a spiritual guide. It is pulp science fiction, but it is full of randomness and debate about the nature of "The Grand Design." while the main characters try to find the bishop's bird stump, a particularly ugly vase missing from Coventry Cathedral from World War II. They travel through time and change the past by saving a cat from drowning and bringing to the future. The main character falls in love with another time traveller as they try to repair the changes they have made in the 1800's before the future is changed irrevocably. The problem they find is that the solution is not what they thought it was, nor was the problem. They didn't have all the information and were wrong about what was needed to fix it.
I don't know if I can really say this how I mean to. On the page it seems preachy and incomplete. I want to say how I see this as a chaotic network, not clockworks, or a plot in the book. The things that are important to directing history may be small, they may involve death and pain, they may not make any sense to us on the ground at the time that it is happening and why. But, if we could understand the whole pattern we would see what really mattered. There was a story in the Ensign soon after his death where a couple faced a similar situation and they prayed, had a blessing and the baby was born alive. Why their's and not ours? I asked myself. The problem is I don't have all the information. Maybe there was a reason their's was saved and mine not. but maybe there is randomness in the equation.
Oddly, it is comforting to realize that I was wrong about world. I still think there is a plan, but I had a very simple view of it before. God's plan for the world includes randomness, pain, free will, temptation, sin, suffering, chaos, death, destruction, evolution, sex, growth, punishment, reward, and unjustness; all that we look around us and see. It includes beauty, success, love, mosquitoes, cholera, first kisses, camp outs, war, computers, fleas, mites, elephants. All of it matters. I just don't know how.
There is a plan he is in control, but it isn't like I envisioned. I can't see it like god is the grand puppetteer writing a script to a play where my son dies and I learn my lesson. He is the creator. It is like being a parent to the universe. You create it and it grows and exists. People die in this world. Even good people.
I even think that God is directing the outcome of this huge creation, but I don't see his control as heavy handed as I once did. I think it is interesting that according to chaos theory there is a pattern in randomness. That chaotic systems can develop order. Sometimes that order is hard to see though. How do you change and control a chaotic system? Sometimes small and indirect actions have a large effect on the system. Sometimes large ones have no effect because the interactions are self sustaining. Somehow that makes not understanding feel better.