Saturday, November 1, 2014

You Are So Loved

I wasn't going to blog about the shooting of corporal Nathan Cirillo, who was gunned down as he guarded the cenotaph at the National War Memorial, not far from the Parliament Hill, on October 22, because I don't see the point in writing about something that everybody else is already writing about, unless I feel that I have something unique to contribute.  But I was especially touched by a story that I read about an Ottawa lawyer who stopped to help the dying soldier, particularly by the words that she spoke to him.

As originally reported by the Canadian Press, Ottawa Lawyer Barbara Winters was on her way to a meeting when she heard the gunshots and she ran to help. A small group of people were already gathered around the dying soldier when she got there.

Winters could see that Cirillo was still alive, though badly wounded, and she began to talk to him, telling him "You're a good man, you're a brave man."  As Winters continued working with the group of people trying to save Cirillo, she continued talking to him, saying "You are loved.  You're family loves you.  You're a good man ... Your family loves you.  Your parents are so proud of you.  All the people here, we're working so hard for you.  Everybody loves you ... We're all trying to help you."

As I thought about these words, I realized that they had a two-fold purpose.  For one thing, they gave the dying soldier a reason to hold on and try to resist death.  It is commonly believed that those who want to live have a much better chance of surviving critical injury or illness than those who give up and resign themselves to the inevitability of death.  Winters' words reassured Cirillo that he was loved and cared for, and they reminded him that there were people who needed him and depended on him.

Sadly, neither Winters' words of encouragement nor the medical assistance provided by those who tried to save Cirillo prevailed, and he ultimately succumbed to death.  And yet, the words were not spoken in vain.  If I must die (as we all eventually must, some day) the end of my life would certainly be made immeasurably easier to bear, if the last words I hear could be such as these; "You are a good man.  We all want to help you.  You are loved."