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Salmon are an interesting fish. They live an extraordinary life in the short four years they are alive. They migrate from the freshwaters of their birth, burst forth into a giant ocean that threatens to swallow them whole, only to find their time has expired so quickly. After exploring the world, they begin to feel the tug…the urge to return home just as quickly. In their passing, they give new life; at the very moment that they expire, they prepare the way for others to follow…selflessly giving even in death.

It would be tempting to morn their passing, but without their sacrifice and struggle to climb waterfalls, narrow shoots, and find their way home, the cycle would not continue. It is tempting to wish them to stick around while longer, to wish that they would swim in the oceans for 40 years instead of 4. But, that is not their path.

Carrie and Matt, friends whom I met on the side of the road near Soperton, GA., lost their baby Brayden yesterday. Carrie was induced and had a c-section to retrieve Brayden, whose name means “salmon” in Gaelic, from her womb where the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck. The little swimmer fought valiantly for 3 hours after birth, embracing the world and his parents with closed eyes and open arms. Now Matt and Carrie must bury his body. They must return to a home that is filled with expectations, and to a little boy’s room that was freshly painted and filled with diapers, onesies, and toys. They must pick up the pieces of their shattered lives, and they must wrestle with the question of “why?”

Why any of it? Why has the path of one’s life brought us to this point? Will we ever get over or heal from the pain of loosing a child, a friend, a loved one? Is there a “god” and if so why would he allow this to happen? What is the meaning of this? What is the meaning of life?

Perhaps it is easier to accept that there is no divine plan than to accept one that includes taking a child from parents so willing to love it.

As I write this I find myself choked up for their loss. Most people find it easy to be empathetic for a situation such as this, for the loss of a child…a baby, an infant, a newborn. But we tend to have less and less empathy for people as they grow older, but in truth, all people are just children. Each day, a person’s passing brings sorrow, but each salmon eventually comes home. Some, just sooner than others.

What then is the take away message? Enjoy, relish, and love everyone you can, their time here may be only 3 hours. Love them all. Everyone is Brayden.