"Boy! It sure is taking us a long time to get to heaven!" Sydney exclaimed on our way home from church on Easter Sunday.
It seemed like a funny thing to say, but I figured that she was working something out, and I was only catching the tale end of her thoughts. I asked her what she meant.
"Well, we're going to heaven, but it's taking us a long time, isn't it?" I didn't know if she was looking for a theological answer or what, but after a pause I simply said, "Well, sweetums, we don't go to heaven until we die."
Maybe it wasn't the right timing for the discussion, but it was not what Sydney was expecting to hear. She's heard plenty about heaven, and sings songs about heaven, and knows something about getting to heaven, but clearly the whole timing part wasn't on her radar.
"We die?!" She burst into tears.
I tried to console her, but I wasn't entirely sure what to say. I couldn't promise her that we'd be around forever. I couldn't tell her that nobody she knew was going to die. In the end, I told her that it wasn't something she had to worry about. Mostly, I wasn't sure to what to say because Darian was on my mind.
Three months after Sydney was born, I quickly learned that I needed some kind of support system to help me adjust to being a new parent. After a bit of research, I discovered a local church had a MOPS group (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) and so one Thursday morning I decided to go.
When I got there, Abby sat at my table. She was the MOPS coordinator, and had the most amazing way of making you feel important from the moment she said hello. That first Thursday at MOPS I realized--thanks to Abby--that I was not alone in the parenting journey. More than that, she made me laugh until I cried.
I kept going to MOPS, and every so often Abby would call me at home just to check on me. My every-other-Thursdays were a lifeline for me and helped me cope with that first year of parenting. Eventually, Abby moved on out of MOPS, but occasionally I would see her and we'd say hello and she'd make me laugh.
Last year, Abby's youngest son Darian was diagnosed with cancer. Osteosarcoma. His left leg was partially amputated. He endured painful treatments, painful surgeries, difficult recoveries. Despite it all, he started kindergarten in the fall.
Abby chronicled Darian's story through CaringBridge, and I followed along--reading, praying, fasting, praying some more. Darian kept going to school, started swim lessons, fought the cancer.
In February they got the news that the cancer was back. It was untreatable.
Abby continued to write about Darian's journey. Through it all, her faith was steadfast. Through it all, she encouraged others, thanked others for their support, reminded us all that God was in control.
Earlier this week she wrote that Darian would soon be in Heaven. I wept. Even though I haven't spoken with Abby in a long time, I still so vividly recall that first Thursday I met her. I recall the stories she told of her boys. I remember laughing.
I received the CaringBridge email this morning:
2 Timothy 4:7
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith
I told Sydney tonight about Darian. She didn't know him, but she's heard me talk about him. We talked about Heaven; we both cried.
I'm heartbroken for Craig and Abby and Bryson. Their loss is one that no family should have to endure.
Please, oh please, keep them in your prayers.
By my friend Alida: A Heavy Heart
PS: Comments on this post are turned off. I encourage you to leave a comment at Darian's journal.