As you take a close look at this magnificent sculpture created by Michelangelo, I want to tell you about the day my daughter was born in order to explain the connection between salt, sugar and La Pieta.
Life changed in big way for me with our firstborn. I remember the event as if it happened just a moment ago. The joy and happiness of my first experience of parenthood is hard to explain. I was on cloud nine to say the least. It was an amazing feeling to hold my daughter in my lap. To this day my friends still tease me about how I acted at that time.
A few months later, my daughter started to run a high fever. When the usual medications did not bring the fever down, we took her to see a pediatrician who was also a family friend. Concerned about how my daughter was acting with high fever, he suggested that we test a sample of the fluid from spinal column. The small procedure required introducing a large needle into her back bone.
As I imagined my daughter going through this painful procedure, I was stricken with grief. I sat in the car heading back to the hospital holding her in my hands, tears rolling down my face. I couldn’t stop crying. The thought of her having to go through this pain was simply unbearable. This from a fellow who was training in general surgery, routinely cutting open just about every part of somebody’s body several times a day.
By the time we arrived at the hospital, my daughter’s fever had thankfully settled down, so the doctors who examined my daughter decided not to proceed with the spinal tap. My relief was as extreme as my grief had been. Having experienced two such intense and opposite emotions in the space of just a few hours, I could only imagine what my wife, who had nurtured the baby inside her own body for nine long months, had gone through.
Years later, we were visiting our family friends and relatives in Los Angeles. Most visitors to the Los Angeles area go to popular tourist attractions such the Hollywood walk, Rodeo drive, the Santa Monica pier, Malibu beach, etc. But our hosts suggested that we check out the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale because of its spectacular works of art. Most notable among those were the trilogy of art pieces that is unique to this park. The first one is the stain glass recreation of The Last Supper. The other two—The Crucifixion and The Resurrection–are the two largest permanently mounted religious paintings in the world, each measuring 195 feet by 45 feet.
These works of art are a sight to behold. You can spend hours, if not days, admiring these magnificent creations. But what really caught my attention in this museum was the full-size replica of Michelangelo’s La Pieta. I have seen pictures and paintings of this great work many times before. But this marble statue was altogether something else. Here was Mother Mary, holding in her lap the body of her dead son. Michelangelo captured the expression of grief, sadness and despair on her face—what a mother goes through when her child is dead—in such an intense yet poignant way. This sight of her face was nothing short of shocking. It brought back the memory of me holding my daughter in the car expecting to take her to the hospital for a painful procedure. I literally sobbed for hours on the way to the hospital. Seeing La Pieta brought back that experience so vividly that once again I could not hold back my tears and had to hide myself from my family and friends.
I am sharing such a personal experience with you to draw attention to the grief every parent goes through when their own child faces illness and suffering, not to mention death. This also serves to remind us of our responsibility to our children.
So let me ask all you parents and grandparents: Don’t you know that feeding your children salt and sugar causes a long list of illnesses? You can’t tell me that you have not heard this before. These health problems that surface later on actually start under your care during your children’s early years. You may not be around when your children pay the price for all the wrong food you are feeding them, but you can relate now to their future pain and suffering. So don’t go creating all those unhealthy tastes and temptations. Take responsibility for your children’s health now, because once the disease comes marching down, it will be way too late.
You do not want to be the one who causes your child’s future health problems. As La Pieta shows us, having to deal with the illness or death of one’s child is excruciating. Save yourself from that fate by saving your child and making the right dietary choices.