Further Thoughts on Death and Faith

X 8.5.14

I promised some friends that I’d issue a correction to my previous post, but I am attempting to do so delicately. The full story is not mine to tell. Suffice to say that one of the failings of humanity is that we invite disease and encourage early visits from death by engaging in destructive and wholly controllable actions.  I’m sorry if that is cryptic. Those close to the situation will understand.

Moving on, I want to speak a piece about my eldest son, and about my grandfather, who as of this writing is still with us.

On Friday, after work, I visited my grandfather in his hospital room. Later that night, my wife said prayers with Jonah. We haven’t discussed the condition of Grandpa Walter with our sons (ages 3 months and 2 years old, respectively).

Last year, my wife and her mother were with Grandpa Kenny when he passed away. Ken was the father of my mother-in-law. Whenever we say prayers, Jonah usually stops and makes extra remarks at the point where we mention Grandpa Kenny.

Friday, he stopped and asked, “What Grandpa Kenny holding?” This was a new one. Lindsay had no idea, and asked Jonah to explain. He stated, “Grandpa Kenny holding a candle.” OK…

Then he asked, “Where Grandpa Kenny?” Lindsay said, “Grandpa Kenny is in Heaven.”

Then he asked, “Where do prayers go?” Lindsay again answered, “Prayers go to Heaven.”

At this point, Jonah stopped asking questions and stated, “Grandpa Walter going to Heaven, too.”

Immediately after prayers, Lindsay came into our bedroom with tears in her eyes and told me the story. It has quickly spread through our family, leaving few eyes dry. I need to reiterate that no one in my family has spoken about my grandfather’s situation with Jonah, nor has anyone raised the subject within earshot.

Yesterday, I shared the prayer story with the hospice nurse. She smiled, but acted completely unsurprised. She told my family that these stories happen ALL the time in her line of work. She went on to tell a curious story following her own father’s death, involving bizarre behavior with squirrels he used to feed.

My favorite high school teacher once told me that if I really wanted to pursue faith, I should study death. I’m starting to think she was right.

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