Sunday, April 26, 2009

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
--Revelation 21:4


When a young person dies, it is a tragedy. Leukemia took my sister Aga at the age of 22, and this week cancer took my nephew Tomas Imrich at the age of 23. Tomas was affected by the Chernobyl nuclear fallout as he was born in 1986. This is a heartbreaking tribute to my little nephew, Tomas, who passed away at the innocent age. We will all feel cheated always that they were taken from us so young. Profoundly disabled Tomas took his first steps right into his mother’s arms. Tomas was the apple of his grandparents’ eyes, and in his grandma’s eyes, he could do no wrong. He was our precious little angel; he was always under the watchful eye of his family and had never even spent a night away from home without his sister, Aga, who was born a year and one day after my sister Aga past away in 1975 …
Tomas died on 24 April, the Chernobyl catastrophe began during the night of April 26, 1986, 120 km from Kiev, and generated marked anxiety in the population regarding their own health and the effects on pregnancies. The maximal atmosphere pollution and radioactive precipitation in Kiev from April 29 to May 2, 1986, reached 1.5-2.5 mRad/hr. As a result, an increase of developmental abnormalties was found in 5-12 weeks old human embryos in Slovakia My family is mourning the loss of Tomas

Tomas was a ray of sunshine Only the good die young
You were the most amazing individual 'old soul' in a young man's body. Life is hard for all of us hard but what Tom and his mum went through was a million times worse. At the age of 18, Tomas lost his father. Not only did he lose his best friend, the circumstances of his dad’s death were tragic for his innocent mind to fathom. Despite every effort and unconditional love and support from her family, friends and teachers, he lost the battle to cope with the pain of loss:

Imagine there's no countries (with nukes)
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

We do not know what would have happened if Magda was pregnant a year earlier with Tomas. We do not know whether his eyes would see better and his ears hear could hear further. We do not know what profession he would choose and whom he would marry. We do not know what opportunities life would have created for him. We will never know what potentials life would have provided for Tomas if he was not born so close to Ukraine and if it was not for those strange dying days of the communist regime … Tomas touched many, many people in his twenty-three years. It seems a short time, it is a short time in comparison to the span of many other lives, but his youth did not limit or diminish his effect on the world. His presence radiated throughout this little town of Vrbov …
His life, his unique gifts, his wordless love … Today is our chance to say 'thank you' for the way you brightened our lives, even though it was a very short life and filled with much pain and sorrow. Family and friends cherished Tomas’s vulnerability as it was also his strength …

“What are you doing, nana?” My daughter Gabbie asked a decade ago.
“Just giving Tomas some food,” grandmother replied.
“You mean you have to feed him yourself?”
“Yes, that’s how he gets his food.”
“How come?” Sasha asked.
“Oh, he was born that way,” Grandmother answered.
Well, that was the way Tomas was born: we have to feed him and take care of him ...

He taught us about patience and perseverance and strength. He taught us about the value of each human life and what really matters in any life. In a world where fashion and fad and products and sales gimmicks seem to dominate the definition of value and worth, Tomas quietly offered another perspective. Sitting with him at home in all of his simplicity and beauty, We often relearned that those material things and desires don’t really matter at all. What matters is our human connections. What matters is the cultivation of our closest loving relationships. What matters is the daily performance of our common humanity. That is what Tomas taught us. He brought that light of understanding to us …

• The vulnerable Tomas lives in me; he lives in you; he lives in all of us Lasting Tribute ; [ Vrbov circa 1251; Lasting peace; 23 years and counting Chernobyl: The Horrific Legacy; Effects of Chernobyl Disaster ]