“Daddy,” Q asked, “Are you going to die while I’m still alive, because Geen (my grandma) died while I was still alive?”
This was one of many questions Q asked as we lay in his bed at Great Aunt Nana’s (Q’s name for my aunt) way past his bedtime last Wednesday night. He had been crying and I had gone in to comfort him. When I lay down beside him the questions began to flow.
“Daddy, Mommy said Great Aunt Nana has some pictures of my Papa (my grandpa), can I look at them later?”
“Daddy, why do people have to die?”
“Daddy, if Geen is resting with Jesus why can I not see her and Jesus?”
To be honest, death has seemed really close this week. Last Monday, Rachel Maxwell who served as a sponsor in youth group when Elizabeth was a teenager died of cancer six weeks after her initial diagnosis. She left a husband and three children and a whole lot of friends and family behind. Really, why do young moms die?
A few days later we received word that John Burton, a family friend whose son was in our junior high youth group while I was in seminary died of a massive heart attack. The news was a complete shock. Here is a godly and healthy man who just moments before was fine. He has left behind a grieving widow, two sons, and three young grandchildren. Really, why do good and godly men die?
Indeed there are seasons in life when death seems close. This has obviously been the case for us this past week, and I think Q, with his sweet and intuitive nature, has sensed what is going on. His three year old mind is trying to come to grips with this scary thing called death. Death, the thing that awaits us all, and yet the thing we try the most to ignore and hold at bay. We don’t like to think about it or talk about it more than we absolutely have to. But Q is willing to ask the questions that we are all silently struggling with.
So back to our conversation.
“Daddy, are you going to die while I’m still alive?”
What can I say to that? I told him the truth…the whole truth. I told him about the brokenness of this world and explained that death is part of that, that death is not at all what God intended for us. I told him that chances are I will die before him, and that hopefully it would be a long time from now. I told him that ultimately we will all die, but that as followers of Christ, when we die we will rest with Jesus, and that someday we will all be raised to new life again.
So no matter how long I or Mommy or even Q lives, there will come a day when we are all once again alive in Christ in His fully come Kingdom. On that day there will be no more death, and not only will we be together but we will see more than Great Aunt Nana’s pictures of Papa, we will see Papa in the flesh.