(Read pt. 1 here & pt. 2 here)
“I’m sorry for your loss.”
That sounded pretty good, right? I couldn’t imagine what it was like to lose a child. I wasn’t about to say something stupid. Peter’s son, Nicholas, had died in his sleep for no discernible reason. What else could I say to a father that just unexpectedly lost a 4 month old boy? I want to communicate so much more to him. But everything else that popped into my head seemed over the top. So I went with the first and simplest option. He firmly shook my hand as I expressed my condolences. I remember his eyes. They were wet with sadness. Poor guy.
I walked my two oldest boys across the sanctuary towards the miniature casket. I wanted them to see little Nicholas. They needed to understand what is at stake in this fallen world. The writer of Hebrew warns that, “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” Everyone needs to be ready to stand before God. Even children. Shielding my boys from this reality would do them no favors. So I made it a practice to bring them with us to any funeral we attended. This was already the second one they had been to in 2012. I didn’t want it to be a weird morbid thing. I just wanted them to understand the wonderfulness of Jesus’ resurrection. Death has been conquered. We have a blessed hope.
On the way out to the minivan my oldest son, Hudson, said, “I don’t want Nicaea to die.”
Athanasius, the middle child, quickly chimed in too. “Nicaea gonna die?”
“No, no. Nicaea is doing just fine. Boys, don’t worry. You’ll be hugging her before you know it! She isn’t going to die.”
Hudson smiled. He had been looking forward to a little sister.
Eleven days later, that exchange kept playing over in my mind as we tumbled down State Route 45 in our minivan. How wrong I had been! Nicaea, like Nicholas, was with her Heavenly Father. There wouldn’t be any hugs from her big brothers. Not in this life. And I’d have to explain this to them in just a few minutes.