The sign in front of the school caught my attention. Just a name and two dates, one the date of birth, the other of death. A little boy, one of the students, had died just three days shy of Christmas and the school was in mourning. I went home and looked online for information about him. Who was he? How did he die? How was his family holding up? I found a photograph, his sweet smiling face showing no signs that the end was near for him. I found an online memorial with remembrances, prayers and letters of encouragement to his parents. I found out where he attended church and the hospital where the end came. How he died remains a mystery to me. This child’s death was a blow to me, though I didn’t know him. Any child’s death is a tragedy and as a mother, I realize it could be me in mourning and I hurt for his parents. But this is more personal: this precious little boy was born just eight days after my youngest child was born. He is now dead and my child is alive. But what if it had been my child? My sweet boy who finds a reason to laugh no matter what is going on around him–I can’t imagine losing him so young. It could happen, of course. It happened to these parents. And I ache for them.
No, I didn’t know this lost child and I do not know his grieving parents but I think about them, wonder how they are coping. I pray for them every time their loss comes to mind. There are many prayers…. Their loss of their precious little boy, so near my own son’s age, reminds me to hold my child a little closer, a little longer. To pray deeper prayers for him, to be more diligent to teach him the everlasting truth of God’s holy Word. It reminds me daily to simply to love him, breath in his sweetness and never lose sight of the fact that life is so very fragile. As long as God wills that we live, nothing can get in the way. But we simply don’t know how many days, how fleeting the hours, that have been appointed to us and to our loved ones.
So tonight, I am remembering this little boy that I did not know. I am thanking God for his life and wishing he were still living. I am saying a prayer in a long line of prayers for parents who are hurting. In three days, the one month anniversary of their son’s death is coming up. I can’t imagine their pain. I wish I could see them, tell them I am praying for them and simply say “I’m sorry for your loss”. I’m sorry–there’s very little else that could be said except I’m praying for you, which I’d also say. I can’t do that. I’ll probably never be able to do that. But I can remember their son’s life and praise God for it. And I can cherish my son’s life, indeed all my children’s lives, just a little bit more.
May God be praised.