Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Why do children have to die?

The past weekend Scott and I went to the upstate to visit with Scott's dad, my father-in-law. We call him Pop. Scott's sister was there too. Sunday was the 2-year anniversary of my mother-in-law's death and Pop wanted his family to be together on that day. Pop wanted Scott to sing in his church on Sunday the song Scott sang at her funeral.

My mother-in-law was on hospice care for nine months before her death, so there was a lot of time to think about her funeral service. Nobody actually did much talking about it, but everyone was thinking about it, and I think everyone must have been thinking something different. Pop was absolutely sure he wanted Scott to sing. Scott was absolutely sure that he would never make it through trying to sing at his mom's funeral without losing it. Scott spent all of those nine months telling me so.

When my mother in law did finally leave us for heaven, not only was Scott grieved, he was also a nervous wreck about the whole singing or not singing business. Pop has always been stubbornly persuasive with Scott. In the end Scott decided it was easier to say yes and struggle through it for Pop than to say no for his own personal relief.

During the funeral and with his agreement beforehand, I spent every minute up until it was time for Scott to sing trying to distract him from what was going on in the service. I guess a better way to say that is that I was trying to help him keep his focus on nothing but singing to help prevent him from losing it. When the time finally came and he got up to sing, a voice came out of him that I had never heard before. And it was beautiful. Scott made the sacrifice and let himself be used of God to bless others. I'm convinced that it was the voice of the Holy Spirit that I heard that day.

So, here we are two years later. Scott did sing that same song in his dad's church on Sunday. Lois was the reason we were all together that day and she was definitely missed, but it was a little easier to celebrate her life this time.

Later that afternoon as we got ready to leave Pop's house to head back home, another funeral procession was underway. Pop's house is right across the street from the cemetery so standing in the driveway, we had front row seats.

We had to wait for the procession to drive by before we could get out on the road. It was unlike anything I've ever seen before. It was Heather Brooke Center's funeral. She was a 8-year old little girl who was shot four times by the estranged husband of her father's girlfriend. It is a sad, sad story (you can read about it here). None of us know the family, but it didn't matter. We were still moved by what we saw.

There were hundreds and hundreds of motorcycles in the processional. One motorcycle even pulled the casket behind it in a carriage. I'm willing to bet that most of those riders didn't know the child either, but they wanted to pay tribute to this special situation.

Scott, who has sung for countless funerals for people ranging from those he didn't even know to his own mother, said, "but it's different when it's a child."

I stood there on the driveway in the sweltering heat. I had a napkin in my hand that I had been using to wipe perspiration off my face. As the cyclists drove by, a time or two I found myself waving my paper hankie at them before I realized what I was doing. Then, I was wiping the tears from my eyes with it. Again, I didn't know the child or anyone in her family.

But it's different when it's a child.

I have two good friends that are close to my age. They don't know each other because they live in different cities and are from different times in my life, but they have something in common besides having me as a friend. Both of these women lost sons to cancer before they ever reached double digits in age. I know that the death of those little boys changed their lives completely and forever.

I never knew Blake or Tyler either. (The anniversary of Tyler's death is this week too.) I didn't meet their moms until after they were gone.

I don't know how Ron & Cindy and Linda & Bobo have managed to beat the odds and stay married in spite of how difficult it must have been.

I don't know how they managed to continue to raise little girls after that, teaching them to love a brother they never really knew.

I just don't know. As I sit here and think about it I just can't imagine what it must be like.

Then I hear a voice in my heart and maybe I understand a little better.

"It's different when it's My child."

And I know it's the voice of God.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

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