“Do not be sad I am with you always; close your eyes…listen. Can you hear me?
I am the music in the trees, the song of a light rain, the rhythms of your heart beat. Can you hear me?
Find the afterglow of my smile in every whisper of a bird’s song, feel the warmth of my touch in every crescendo of the ocean’s waves. Can you hear me?
Feel the reverberation of my life, the happy times and bright and sunny days we shared and let you tears of grief be dried by the sun; I am the music of life, and my song will play on. Listen…and you will find me.”
Tonight I spent a few hours at the wake of a young man of such promise. He was the brother of my daughter’s friend – a senior in high school – an honor student, accepted to an excellent college for the fall, plans for the future, for a life full of LIFE. A bad decision – one with terrible and permanent consequences – cost this young man his life earlier this week. I watched his devastated parents, numb from grief, go through the motions – stand in line and hug family, friends, and strangers alike, all who thanked their God that it wasn’t them who stood in their stead, that it wasn’t their child each guest knelt before, praying to whomever they believed in, all with the same look of disbelief that I had as I found my seat.
How could this happen? How could you think you’d done everything right as a parent – raise a seemingly exceptional kid who checked off all the boxes, but when push came to shove, you had possibly missed the glaringly obvious signs that your child wasn’t prepared for the toughest challenge of all – stepping onto life’s stage and living? Please hear me when I say I am in NO WAY judging these poor parents. There but for the grace of God go I most assuredly. I just find myself at a loss as a parent – as I watched the evenings events unfold, surveyed the roomful of memories, observed countless high school friends experiencing their first loss with their parents in tow – how can I do all I can to prepare my teens for life as it races to meet them head on? How can I assure them that they are enough in this world when I still doubt my abilities? How can I trust they will turn to me when they question themselves, their worth, their value and that I will be there in their moment of need?
The world has faster, cooler, and smarter answers than I have. Their friends are available at their fingertips, always at the ready. I am who they come to when they’ve exhausted their other options. I want to change that scenario. I know I’m not going to ‘replace’ their best friends, but I also know I’ve implanted in them the knowledge that they can trust me – good or bad – they can come to me with whatever is on their minds. We can talk it through and I can help them, even if they think it’s the end of the world…I’m always going to help them. I may not love the choices they make, but I am always going to love them.
As I walked my daughter through this first wake experience, I secretly hoped there wouldn’t be any more for her to experience such as this. Her innocence on what to do, how to react and where to go reassured me that I still had time to plant more seeds within her. She’s growing into an exception young woman, and my prayer is that the pressures of this world don’t overwhelm her ever. But if they do, I hope she remembers my subtle reassurances that she can always come to me – even if she thinks I’m goofy – and I am going to help her.
I hope this young man felt surrounded by the overwhelming love of his parents, even as he made a costly mistake last weekend. I hope he knew without a doubt he was cherished, special and enough.
In Memory of ABR 4/12/15