A schoolmate of my daughters left this world today.
It wasn’t sudden. Obviously any death of a child is too sudden, but in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t overly so. She had been battling a nasty tumor that invaded her brain for the past seven months.
We’ve been praying for a miracle for months. We prayed fervently last night.
Sometimes you don’t get the miracle you hope for.
We were discussing her passing with the girls this afternoon. At dinner, they started talking about Heaven and how this little girl is perfectly happy in Heaven.
I love the faith of children. It’s so simple, and it’s so pure and so real. They were certain. I, myself, was struggling.
As I was nodding with them and talking with them about the afterlife, my heart was breaking. All I could think about was that she was a baby, and the mama heart in me couldn’t comprehend how a baby could possibly be okay somewhere, anywhere, without her mama?
How could she stay safe in Heaven? Who would dry her tears? Who would hug her and talk to her and make her smile? Who would be her cheerleader? Who would be her companion? Who would protect her heart and her soul? Be her soulmate? Her rock? Her confidant?
A girl needs her mother.
Then we started talking a bit about Fatima and how Saints Jacinta and Francisco were canonized today and how they, too, were children when they died. We added a bit of levity to the discussion by considering that perhaps they were all playing together and they were teaching her games from a hundred years ago while she was introducing them to the wonders of an iPad.
And I let that thought percolate for a bit. I started thinking about all of the children who populate Heaven. All the little ones who left behind so much heartbreak from a life cut too short according to our standards.
And I started to see a bit of a blessing in the sorrow.
My grandma died eight years ago this week. I still think about her constantly, and I still cry sometimes when I do. But when someone who has lived a very full life dies, we are sad and broken and mourning, but we don’t necessarily see an injustice in it.
After all, that’s how life is. We live, hopefully for a long time, and then we pass on. Ninety some years of life is a blessing, and we generally see it as that.
Nine years, on the other hand…
But what if we look at it from the other side. From Heaven’s side. From perfection’s side.
All of us, no matter how little or how much of life we get, spend precious little of our existence actually on this Earth. We were made for eternity. And if our goal is to live a life in Communion with God, so we can go spend eternity with Him…
Well then can we mourn for what the children lose?
They leave this Earth without experiencing heartache. Without knowing rejection. They spend their entire lives in a home of love, surrounded by unconditional love, bathing in it. They don’t have to fight against the bitterness that years can bring or the temptations of jadedness or roughness or callousness.
They don’t have to struggle to maintain their innocence and the simplicity of their faith because they never lose it to begin with. They return pure to the one who created them and loves them best of all.
Jesus said, “Let the children come to me,” and as devastating as seeing a child walk to Him is, perhaps it’s not as hard for them to walk confidently into those waiting arms than it would be for us.
I’m always hesitant to write things when tragedy strikes others because I am cautious not to make it about myself. I didn’t know of this little girl until her diagnosis was announced. My girls knew her, but they were not in the same grade as her, so they were acquaintances at best. The pain is not mine; it’s not ours. The suffering is not on our shoulders. We are not the ones left to face a future of mourning and what ifs and what could have beens.
I often think of these things and choose to remain silent wanting to respect the overwhelming grief that stands before me.
But the thing I realized today is that we do not live in a vacuum. Our lives are like the rock skipped across the ocean that sends ripples to shores we have never even touched. We impact others. Others impact us. And whether we want it to or not, everything changes us and adds to us and chisels away at us, molding us into the people we are meant to be.
Her life was too short. But that doesn’t mean it was quiet.
She touched people. She inspired passion and empathy in people. And she made a lot of people a whole lot better.
So these thoughts of mine aren’t an attempt to make sense of something I couldn’t possibly understand or empathize with. They are just the thoughts of someone on the sidelines. Someone watching from afar a life well lived. Someone who was impacted and someone who cared. And someone who is desperately trying to understand.
Sleep with the angels tonight, little girl. And look after and pray for your mama – she’s going to need your prayers more than you ever needed hers.