Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Tamara Passey Guest Post

10.2.17

I read the news and learned of the Las Vegas mass shooting at 8:20 a.m.  

“No!” I cried out. A mind, heart, and soul—“NO.” 

Random and reckless. Terrifying and too much. I have to remember once again that I live in this world where people can hurt, maim, and kill. I can already see the waves of grief spreading out over the city, and state, the country and the world. It takes all my willpower to resist the fear and refuse the helplessness.

A single thought whispers: Do goodSomething, anything. Do something kind for someone today. It seems pointless or ineffective or thin in the face of such thick evil. Yet the thought persists because of what I know.

You see, my son shares a birthday with his uncle. My brother. The brother that was killed—kicked to death—by three men. This isn’t a fact we dwell on when November rolls around and we sing happy birthday to him. For years after my brother’s death, I wished my son could have been born on a different day. 

But their shared birthday led me to a mental comparison I might not have made otherwise.

My son is also a liver transplant recipient. Some organs you can share without giving your life—like kidneys. While others can only be given when your life ends—like hearts, for example.  So, yes, a child died unexpectedly and his parents agreed to donate his liver to our son who had been on the waiting list almost three months. (The same list that as of today, an average of 20 people die each day waiting.)  Through the next 24 hours of tears and prayers and skilled surgery, he emerged with a healthy liver and a body capable of living. And live he has. For 23 years, our family has known joy. Whole-souled, awe-filled joy because of him. Not just because of the miracle of his life, but because of the miracle that someone we didn’t know was allowed to choose to give him another chance at life. Choosing to do good, even in an hour of pain and grief.

While I have grappled with the heart-sickening actions of others—both mistakes or hateful acts of violence—and how those actions are allowed to wreak havoc in the lives of innocent people, I have gradually come to see what this means for the loving actions of others. Loving actions are allowed to impact us as well. Generous gestures, kind compliments, and heroic rescues can all create waves of comfort and peace. Doctors who dedicate years to study and practice so they can heal, save a life, or relieve a pain. Friends who show up on doorsteps with dinner, neighbors who water your plants and watch the street when you’re out of town. Family members who listen, encourage, and cheer you on—give you a hug (a high-five, a fist-bump—whatever love language you speak.) All of these loving actions can supply happiness and peace, hope and joy. Love can help and heal and give life. And like a wave, it can move through a family, a city, and the world too. 

This is my reality: three men I will never know changed the landscape of my family’s life causing immense grief and pain by ending my brother’s life. While another three people, two parents and a child, were allowed to give the gift of life, also changing my family’s life—bringing infinite happiness and joy. 

It may be impossible to avoid grief on a day like today—where the news headlines are driving pain into my heart and home. I don’t have maxims or mottos or not least of all, answers. 
But I do have a longing swelling up into a soul-filled determination to push back against the wave with one of my own. Do good today—something, anything—good

Tamara Passey

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