Opinion: Life lessons from a 2-week-old baby



Sarahbeth Caplin

Over break, a friend of mine confided in me about the status of a little boy named Samuel, the newborn son of one of her friends. At two weeks old, baby Samuel had suffered a series of medical problems such as decreased lung capacity that required him to be hooked up to a ventilator, and endured numerous surgeries. His parents remained hopeful and clung to the support of friends and family, but on Christmas Eve, baby Samuel passed away.

In the aftermath of a tragedy that no parent should ever have to face, Samuel’s parents remained positive and were even thankful that they were blessed to have a son at all, even though he never got to leave the hospital. Such strength and courage when everyone expected them to wallow in despair is amazing to me. No one would have faulted those parents for breaking down and losing sight — maybe, but still they showed that true joy in life depends on more than just circumstance.

Baby Samuel didn’t live long enough to walk or speak, but I think there is much to be learned from his brief life. I believe Samuel taught his parents to not take anything for granted, and that the quality of one’s life is not measured by comparing the number of positive events to the negative ones; rather, it is how we choose to respond to them that shapes character.

I won’t pretend to have the answer for why terrible things happen to people who don’t deserve it. However, as difficult and impossible as it may seem, perspective can be an unlikely friend whenever a tragedy shakes one’s faith. I’ve known people who have maintained a strong religious conviction and an optimistic outlook for most of their lives, knowing full well that the world can be a cruel place, only to lose it when something terrible happens to them personally. I’ve never understood that logic.

When my father was diagnosed with cancer, he taught me to never wallow in bitterness. He challenged me to turn my grief into something positive, and that is one of the most important lessons I’ve learned so far.

While it’s useless to compare the severity of one person’s tragedy to another, I think that a lot of people are quick to point out the “greater plan” in other people’s problems, and then play the “Why me?” card when it’s their turn to suffer.

Too often, we forget that no one is exempt from pain. It’s not a matter of who deserves it and who doesn’t. No one ever promised that life would be easy, but a great many have insisted that it’s worth persevering. The short life of a 2-week-old baby reminded me of this.

Sarahbeth Caplin is a senior English major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].