A friend’s newborn died earlier this week.  She stopped breathing. 

When I first heard the news, I felt that unfathomable unfairness of life, the horrific randomness of all that is unexpected and tragic.  The baby stopped breathing.  I still can’t get my mind around it.  I know it happens.  But I know it happens only to others, those people you see on talk shows with their eyes glazed over or those bad actors on TV. 

I went to buy a sympathy card last night because I’ve read that’s what is done, that’s what you do.  I stood there at Barnes and Noble reading all the sympathy cards, all except the religious ones.  Although I believe in God, I don’t believe in buying cheesy sympathy cards with crosses, doves and trite messages of hope in the face of such utter despair.  I read every card on the rack and then felt guilty that I even tried to buy “the right one.” 

How do you buy the right sympathy card for an infant’s death?  Why would I think a card from me would shed some knowledge or sense on such an unknowable and senseless event?  In the face of such tragedy, it would be like trying to light a world gone dark with a candle.  I chose one, stood in line and tried to think of something other than a tiny casket and the wails of a grieving mother, my friend.   

I’m mailing the card this afternoon.