Emily Swan's article is on Medium: How Netflix's "Russian Doll" Helps Us Process Death
Great show, binge watched it just after it came out because I got hooked on it very quickly. Lots to think about, especially watching as Nadia deals with stuff that had gone on in her life, including trying to put right some things.
I’m glad that, unlike in Groundhog Day, they didn’t go down the route of Nadia spending each iteration leading up to her death, fixing things she’d done wrong. That begs the question, if we could fix something once, is that enough in order to find forgiveness or should we be seeking that forgiveness over and over.
I found the common wonderings you listed interesting. My Mum passed away several years ago and I wonder if during her last months she wondered those things. Dad passed away suddenly and wouldn’t have had a chance to think about those questions but he must have dwelled on some things because we feel that he knew something wasn’t right, had made his peace with life and was ready to go when the time came.
My son also passed away 18 months ago and during his last 6 months we focussed on doing things that he wanted to do and making memories for those of us left behind. He knew he was dying but we never really talked about how he felt about it. The only things I know about what was going through his head during those months were that he was worried about what would happen to his Mum and I after he was gone, and a few days before he died he said to me one evening in the hospice “I could die”. I never asked him what he meant so I don’t know whether he meant he’d had enough and was ready to move on, or whether for some reason he’d realised that he was dying and there was really was nothing that was going to change that.
Since he died I’ve spent time thinking about the things you listed but from my point of view and not his.
Why did he die? He’d spent 17 years being treated for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, and then after a bone marrow transplant sorted that out, multiple operations to remove tumours in various parts of his body. Why did he go through all of the treatment and operations in order to still die in the end?
Did I do something so that he deserved this? I have to wonder, if I’d done some of the things I have in my life differently, if I’d gone down the path God set before me when I was born and hadn’t eventually gone down the route I did go down, would Rhys still be alive. Seeing him pull through some many things over the years while I was still on the path I’d been on from birth, but then after I’d changed path, go through operation after operation until there was no chance of successful treatment. In my darker moments I blame myself for his death and see it as God punishing me for the decisions I’ve made.
And of course Is there a meaning or purpose to everything he went through? That I have some of an answer to. There were people at his funeral who knew each other but didn’t realise they had a connection through Rhys to each other. His ten pin bowling club created a new badge for them to wear that has RPLO on it, Rhys Powell Lives On. Someone decided to apply for a new position at work because after thinking about what he was going through decided that they could go for what they wanted to do, and got that job. And finally, someone else decided that they were going to get over something they were dealing with, for him.
I know that he had an impact on so many lives but I find myself wondering God’s purpose was putting him through all the illness and then having him die at 19 years of age. If he’d survived, he wanted to go into childcare, maybe even as a play specialist in a hospital. With his experience and understanding of what children go through when ill like that he could have helped so many other people, but it wasn’t to be.
And what of my purpose now? From the moment he was first diagnosed my entire purpose in life has been to be the rock that he and his Mum can rely on no matter what was thrown at him. I’ve been the one to make sure that they had the strength they needed to get the through the really tough times. Now that he’s passed away, that purpose isn’t there any more. So what is my purpose? If that was my purpose in life, to get him through everything, then why am I still here? Why hasn’t God decided that I’ve served my purpose and called me home to him? If I’ve still got a purpose in life, and I’m not still around as punishment, then what is it and when will He reveal it?