We who miss her terribly have been consumed by theological debates as to why this evil was allowed to happen. She'd gone to a doctor, complaining of the flu and headaches, and was sent home to rest. After she went to bed the evening of Oct. 25, she never woke up. Her frantic housemates rushed her to the hospital, where doctors discovered Susan's autoimmune response to a freak virus had wiped clean her brain.There is no answer. It is not the will of God that people die. There is no power of God that can magically step in and heal a sick person. And what kind of God would it be that listens to the prayers of some and ignores the prayers of others? Nor is there any Satan causing sickness, cancer, or evil.
The technical name is acute disseminated encephalomyelitis. A neurologist from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., told the family her case was the worst he had seen. None of the doctors held out any hope.
When word went out last Saturday that the family was disconnecting her respirator, I rushed to Fairfax Hospital's neurological intensive care unit. She lay, silent, one hand clasped about a rosary. Her hands were warm as I held them. Her parents, brother and Eduardo sat there, numb.
"God had a reason for this," a friend told me later over the phone.
"No, He didn't," I responded. "This was the devil."
Who was responsible for the fact that Susan, who wore a long, sweepy red dress as maid of honor at a friend's recent nuptials, will never attend her own wedding? Was it her doctor, who could have noticed something was gravely wrong? Was it God or Satan who structured - or interfered with - Susan's body so it would attack itself thus?
We struggle in the dark. The Jesus that Susan believed in was a healer. He never told people to wait or be content with dying. Two thousand years later, that power is missing. All the prayers, fasting and Masses offered for Susan did not prevent her death...
Sometimes bad things happen to good people. We want to understand. It is human nature to want to understand. What we can understand, thanks to science, is what it is that made her sick. But that doesn't necessarily make it any easier. What we can do is weep with those who are weeping and surround them with love and care. And resist the temptation to tell them that it was the will of God.