Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Big A, Little A

My heart has been heavy in the last few days, after I received two pieces of sad news. One involves a man in his early 40s and the other a newborn baby girl. They share the same initial, A, and I’ll call them Big A and Little A in this post.

Sadness, by Pixy E on Flickr

Big A

On Sunday evening Mr Curious received an e-mail from his boss. Big A, one of Mr C’s colleagues , was badly injured in a cycling accident. The doctors had to drain fluids from Big A’s brain and he is currently in an induced coma, as the medical staff wait for the brain swelling to ease.

I met Big A a few times at Mr C’s work functions. Big A is a larrikin and a true character. When the office organised a trapeze training session, he turned up in a Borat-style leotard and brought the house down! That was in front of his wife and kids (I guess they are used to his sense of humour). He is also a generous guy, a great husband and dad, and an active member of his church.

We have been receiving regular updates on Big A from Mr C’s boss and his condition appears to be stabilising but there is a long way to go.

The people in Mr C’s office created a montage of photos with Big A and his colleagues, which Mr C’s boss delivered to the hospital. They also set up a blog where Big A’s colleagues and friends can send their wishes and prayers to Big A and his family. It was very thoughtful of them. I shed a tear as I looked through all the photos on the montage which was posted on the blog.

Little A

On Monday my friend K posted a cryptic and worrying status update on Facebook. I messaged her to see if she was OK, and she wrote back saying that she was sadden by the death of Little A.

K told me about Little A when we had lunch a few weeks ago. Little A suffered a rare illness and was born with multiple deformities. She was on life support from birth to assist her breathing. Little A’s parents sought advice from experts in Australia and overseas and the diagnosis was not good. After much deliberation they made the difficult decision to take Little A off life support. She survived for a few days and eventually passed away. Little A's parents are understandably devastated.


The original title of this post is “Why do bad things happen to good people?”

It is hard to picture the happy-go-lucky Big A lying in a hospital bed, fighting for his life. I cannot imagine what Big A’s family is going through right now. As for Little A … what can I say? It is so unfair that she wasn’t given a chance to live, and I feel so much for Little A’s parents. I wish I can give them the biggest hug, even though I don’t know them.

Someone responded to K’s FB status with “Sometimes there just aren't any answers”*. And after thinking about it I agree with her. The longing for an answer in these situations is human nature, because we want to understand, we want help to make sense of something that doesn’t seem to make sense, and sometimes because we want to blame it on someone or something. But the world is not planning its every move. Each part of this planet reacts to others parts which react to yet other parts, and the result is what we know as life. Sometimes it brings beauty and joy (rainbows, sunny days, births), and other times tragedies (natural disasters and deaths).

Rainbow, by BhumiJoshi on Flickr

Some people may be disheartened by such a clinical and impassive view. I’ve heard people say that if the universe is created by a big bang and there is no guiding hand or higher purpose, our life is meaningless. I didn’t know how to respond to that argument then but I think I do now. Instead of despairing at the “emptiness” of life, I’m celebrating the fact that these “random” interactions of beings and things create so much beauty and joy, when they are not a given.

The other day TLG was opening his mouth when eating and showing off the half-chewed vegemite sandwich inside. I told him to stop because “it’s yucky”, and as you can expect it only encouraged him to do it more often, and he laughed at my disapproval. I took a video of his infectious laughter. That laughter was pure. It was beautiful and it made me so happy. Isn't it amazing that life can bring such unbridled joy?

That pearl of laughter IS what gives my life meaning. Everyone has their “pearls of laughter” – from family and friends, from beauty, generosity, kindness and discovery. If that is not worth living for I don’t know what is!


I wish Big A a speedy and full recovery, and his family strength in such trying times.

To Little A’s parents I send my sincere condolence.

And finally to Little A – your life touched so many people’s hearts (including mine), and your family will forever cherish the beautiful memories you shared with them.

Baby Feet, by Joel Horst [Luxart Studios] on Flickr

In honour of Little A, I will be making a donation to Bear Cottage, a children's hospice in Sydney which helped Little A and her family tremendously in her short life.

* I sent this post to K. That response I noted above was from Little A's mum


  1. Such a touching post, I wish hugs and healing for big A and for little A's parents. Life is crazy (and fucked up at times), it honestly is but so beautiful too, my children bring laughter and joy to my life everyday.

  2. What touching stories!

    I really feel for Little A's parents. It must've been such a painful decision to make :/

    it is very unfortunate what happened to Big A. I really hope he recovers soon.

  3. This is such a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. I feel a lot like you do about life's meaning, and enjoyed reading your views on it. You chose some lovely photos to accompany your words, too. I hope Big A pulls through. Sometimes people beat all the odds. xx Kiki

  4. Heartbreaking :-(

    My condolences go out to Little A's parents and I hope Big A gets better soon.

    The question of the 'meaning of life' has plagued humans since the dawn of time. I know many people say that 'things happen for a reason' but I don't think it's as simple as that. Life is living...I try to celebrate it as much I can.

  5. My condolences to Little A's family =( speedy recovery for Big A too. News these past week have been breaking my heart!

  6. Thanks everyone for your comments. Big A is still in a coma, I will update when I hear any news.

    I highly recommend a donation to Bear Cottage, what a fantastic service for sick children and their families at such a difficult time.

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