David Frum

02.25.13

Dealing with Awful Loss

Please read and contemplate Tim Carney's beautiful essay on his infant nephew John Paul Kilner, who recently passed away from spinal muscular atrophy:

"Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine," the Lord says in this passage, "you did for me." Clearly a call to charity, this is also an exaltation of parenthood. Even moreso, this exalts the work of caring for helpless JP.

Tribulations both reveal character and form it. JP's struggles revealed his parents' heroic virtue and fostered virtue in others.

Pat and Elena saw John Paul as a blessing, and they generously shared that blessing with the world. They took him wherever they could, in a chair rigged with a ventilator and an IV. Elena shared wider, by penning hopeful, contemplative letters to John Paul every few weeks, which she posted on a blog. One friend of mine, who never met the Kilners, read the "Letters to John Paul" blog. She wrote me, "John Paul's story made me want to be a better person."