Sunday, January 17, 2010

Jess, Haiti and God

I'm still struggling to put my feelings about Jess into words so bear with me.

Right now, I should be at Church. Hope and Ellie are there but I am feeling a bit lousy with a cold and Wills is coming down with the same. That's the reason we're home but I would have struggled there today anyway. We've been through lots with Wills and I've never once questioned my faith as a Christian or really been angry with God for putting us through it. I trusted him that he was in control. On Tuesday night, I, like many others who knew and loved Jess, was in a total pickle! I spent a lot of time chatting on MSN to others and really felt unable to sleep. At about 3, I realised that I had to get up and do William's medicines in 3 and half hours and had to calm down and sleep soI did 'as Grandma would have' and poured a cup of tea and a tot of brandy left over from the Christmas cooking. While I was in the kitchen, my upset turned to anger and I found myself shouting "It's not fair!" a couple of times (which Hope heard and through was part of a dream). Part of this was venting but I was also shouting that to God.

It's not fair that Jess did so much to fight for people on transplant lists. It's not fair that she loved life and was so determined to hang on to it that she defied the odds and lived on the lung capacity of a coke can for the last 2 years of her 4 and half year wait for transplant. It's not fair that she waited that long. It's not fair that she got her gift right at the least minute and began recovering well only to have it snatched away again. None of this is fair and I am pretty angry with God about it. It makes no sense at all. I'm not having faith crisis, my faith is too strong for that but, it it wasn't for our colds, I would have felt a bit like "I'm none too happy with you right now God and today I'm not quite ready to come and visit you. Let's try again next week!"

Jess cared so much about other people, in fact a text that got in tears during the SaveJess twittering, was one that simply said "Thank you so much, if it's too late for me at least you're saving others." Jess was never that comfortable with the attention all being on her, she didn't see herself as important enough. She liked being the face of a campaign that would help others but didn't want it to be just about her. She would have been very moved and humbled by the impact her passing is having on us all but there would have come a point very quickly on when she would have wanted us to keep her in our thoughts but channel our energies into helping others.

I had some great meetings at the end of last week about how I can do more to help those waiting for organ transplants and will blog about those soon but, on Friday, something else came up where I can used my skills, some of which were gained in the Save Jess campaign.

A good friend of mine did a trek last year for the Haiti Hospital This is a Christian organisation who run a hospital in Haiti to help women and children. Even before the earthquake, 75% of Haiti women give birth at home alone. I in 5 of their children died before the age of 5. I met the trustees at a sponsored run organised to raise money for the trek. I was there photographing the event but we spoke about writing some features about their work and getting them some media coverage. I didn't hear anything else until Friday when a trustee called me to ask if I could write about their work following the quake. They are still standing in the North of the country but are expecting refugees this week, many of whom will beed medical help, many of whom will be pregnant women and children. They also plan to send some extra teams out to the worst affected areas of the country. This morning, I got a call asking me to come to an emergency trustee meeting this afternoon to discuss the plans further, how they manage the media response to the crisis and how I can help with with this and write some features for them.

I imagined what Jess would have said - something along the lines of 'pull yourself together girl, you can make a real difference here, just as you are with the organ donation awareness work, stop thinking about me so much and get on with it!' I have a lot of work to do with Live Life then Give Life this week which is fantastic and I have time also to do some work with Haiti Hospital, but not if I keep brooding about things I can't change. They'll be some tearful moments this week I'm sure. Jess's funeral is not until the following week so it will be a while before we feel the closure to move on with her memory. Life goes on though and one thing Jess taught us all is to make the most of every opportunity and every minute. This won't be the last you hear of Jess here but I am doing that now.

And as for God and church this morning, well, had I gone, by the time I'd picked up a message about the meeting this afternoon it would have been a lot more difficult to arrange to be there. So, God, maybe there is some sense in all this somewhere and you are in control and have a plan for me. Right now, I still think life is very unfair and I am cross with you. I'm still listening to you though, communication hasn't broken down.


craftyclaire said...

Sarah, don't be afraid to tell God that you are angry and can't see His Will in all this. God is our friend and he loves to communicate with us, obviously as with our earthly friends it is best when we are happy and positive but even when we are angry/hurt/whatever negative emotions he still want us to turn to him.
Grieve for Jess but don't let it stop you from moving on and doing good. That you are ministering in your grief and being so honest about your feelings will help many people who are struggling through these emotions and trying to balance them with their faith. I am sure that there are many, many people praying for you and all those touched by Jess' death, she reached out to so many people, many of them never met her or even communicated with her but were hurt by her death. You were lucky to have really know her and I'm sure her impact on your life will live on in you for a very long time.
May God bless you and when it is right give you his wonderful, gracious peace

Tinypoppet said...

I can't really help as I am not religious, some of the reasons being ones you've listed here (my logical side outweighs any faith I might try to have), but thinking of you as I'm sure the personal turmoil is an unpleasant one. I hope you are feeling more settled and happy soon. xx

Leon said...

I know that it is difficult and even having the insight that I do about the possible outcomes with people who receive transplants, it is difficult not to be touched by Jess's story.

The thing is, what she has done (and perhaps this may have been part of the Greater Picture) is to provide not just a human face and real story for people to understand, but also an even GREATER illustration of the importance attached to people signing up to the Organ Donation Register.
The number of people that survive transplantation can only increase significantly if the number of people who RECEIVE transplants increases. And as you know, many many people die without having that chance.

Jess's death will not have been in vain.

Her story can only serve to highlight even more the importance of the work that you have done and continue to do.

Everything happens for a reason... just sometimes we can't necessarily perceive that reason until we have the benefit of hindsight.

I never knew her, but I doubt that she would want you to be angry. She is free of a life that was incredibly hard - her work done - and now she can rest easy.

Much love to you and yours.