The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Dillan, we hardly knew ye

My little cousin Dillan Cade died last week. Only eight years old, he'd been battling a rare form of cancer, and was on his last chemo session, his very last, when his heart failed. I found out about it just days before I was due to drive to Phoenix to visit my aunt Margaret, who is 92 and very frail. This was all after a major upset with another person in my life, and frankly, I was pretty tapped out after driving to Phoenix on Friday and back on Saturday (Nicki did most of the driving on the way back). Sunday was a blur, thankfully all Jason wanted to do was swim and play Playstation. I woke up feeling like hell this morning, drove Jason to daycare , then took Nicki out to UCIrvine, then turned around and drove to the funeral. There is just nothing, nothing in the world worse than the funeral of a child.

The church was packed wall-to-wall, and the service was wonderful. Family had flown in from around the country to support Beverly Cade, daughter of Oliveen Clavon, one of my very favorite people in the world, and daughter of my mother's uncle. This was the kind of church service where people shout, stand up, raise their hands, testify, and let their emotions flow over them in a healing river.

We've brushed on questions of faith and atheism in this blog, and this is all I want to say: I would wish anyone the kind of supportive community that the Cades had today. I would fear for anyone who felt their child had simply fallen into an endless abyss. The atheists I know are, in general, the same kind of good people that my Christian friends tend to be. I don't know how they grieve, I really don't. I hope that they have their philosophies and attitudes and supports in place before the unspeakable strikes. Life can seem so savagely cruel at times, and it seems sane to take solace where we can.

Dillan. I saw him in passing at family holidays, and only really remember him from last Thanksgiving, when we had everyone to the house. He was a quiet child, beginning chemo, who finally opened up and started playing with Jason toward the end of the evening. He didn't really rip and run with the others, or play Rock Band or whatever. But he was an intelligent, gentle boy with wise eyes and tremendous courtesy. And now I'll never know him any better. Never...oh, crap, I'm tired right now. Just a little much in too short a period of time.

I don't know about anyone else, but right now I'm quite happy for my certainty that the universe makes sense, even if I can't understand it.

19 comments:

Mike Ralls said...

My deepest sympathy to Dillan's family and friends in their time of grief. I hope they get all the support they can get.

Scott said...

My sympathy.

Atheism can be a cold lonely place; I do not recommend it.

suzanne said...

my sympathies too, Steve
but the world is not
necessarily a cold
and lonely place
without the monotheistic god!

it's a matter of perception

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

My sympathy as well. Since I'm in the God believing set, I'll keep Dillan and his family in my prayers.

Dan Moran said...

I'll debate matters of faith another day, this is a bad time. I am sorry for your loss.

Marty S said...

My condolences Steve to you and the family. No parent should have to endure the pain of watching a child die.

Anonymous said...

I am very sincerely sorry for your loss. I went through chemotherapy, but it was the least traumatic sort. Many people who have chemo suffer far more than I did. I have long had a special sympathy for children who endured cancer. And of course, seeing a young life, full of promise, cut short is terrible.

Marco

kwasi said...

I'm very sorry for your loss Steve. I wish you and your family the best at this time.

As for issues of religion, or lack thereof. I'll save those for another time,

Anonymous said...

Steve, my heartfelt condolences.
As an Atheist, I offer the following snippets on grief and condolence:
Dilan is gone. More accurately, he returned to that endless darkness from which we emerge at birth, to which we soon return. Our lives are like the flashes of fireflies, fleetingly lighting the endless night that's our home for the ages.
Unlike Scott, I DO recommend Atheism, a perspective that, by demanding the acceptance of raw reality, opens the mind to the wonders of the Cosmos, and cultivates maturity and strength. While we're denied the easy solace offered by the notion loved ones live on somewhere beyond memories and words, we're compensated by the deeper appreciation of the beauty of Dilan's existence, that,out of all the possible evolutionary schemes, timelines and happenstances that could have been, and all the people who might have been,Dillon was. Astronomical odds conspire against us, to keep our sparks forever dead in the endless night. Dillon and all of us defy the odds for a flash. In that knowledge, and in life's own brevity lies beauty, awe, true solace.

Ethiopian Infidel

TMSG said...

Condolences.

Reluctant Lawyer said...

You and your family have my deepest sympathies.

Steven Barnes said...

While I love the comments from those who share my faith, curiously, the comments from those who do not touched me most deeply. I specifically was interested in how atheists deal with these things, and you rose to the challenge. Thank you.

Ashe Hunt said...

My condolences to you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Why does accepting that existence is merely something that comes and goes necessarily impart maturity and strength? That reeks of the smug new Dawekins' atheism that labels those with faith as weak-minded children still playing make believe. Can't we all reach a place where regardless of beliefs or lack thereof we can accept everyone as equals. Comments like that make some of us atheists cringe. Watch the go God go South Park series to see what I mean

Anonymous said...

'Why does accepting that existence is merely something that comes and goes necessarily impart maturity and strength?;

From Polybius and Hobbes, through Baldwin, Sagan and Dawkins, critics of religion have recognized the principal motivation for believing in supernatural entities such as Olympian or Abrahamic gods is the fear of death. The sum of all prayers is life everlasting in Elysium, and the banishment of Hell, or, worse still, Annihilation. To banish that fear not by embracing idyllic fantasies, but by looking blank eternity squarely in its dead face, to accept the reality and inevitability of annihilation, is to me an act of consummate intellectual and emotional maturity and courage.

Ethiopian Infidel

Debbie C..... said...

Hi everyone I am Steve's cousin Debbie. I am Dillan's Aunt. I appreciate all of your love during this most difficult time. I appreciate the Atheist views as well as the God fearing views. It tells me that we share an understanding of loss. The respect that all of you are showing right now, simply put, warms my heart!

To my precious cousin Steve I saw you at the funeral and I am glad that you were there. I am sorry that I could not get to you and give you a BIG Hug! Just know that I feel the same way you do. I am happy that you had us over for the holidays, what a wonderful memory of Dillan playing the guitar in your loving home. I am honored to have you as a cousin! May the God of Heaven and Earth continue to Bless you, as you continue to share your gift of words with all of us........

luv u, Debbie C........

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