Sunday, June 18, 2006

Life Lessons Learned

This week was filled with much sadness for our family. Our 6 year-old friend, Jacob Duckworth ( earned his angel wings on June 12th. On Wednesday, June 14th we received the sad news that Paul’s Uncle Frank had passed away suddenly.

Although we had never met Jacob or his family personally, we have been following his story of bravery for over a year. Jacob reminds me a lot of Aidan and so I felt very close to him. His mom and dad shared their story of the life and death of their son so openly and I’ve learned an incredible amount about faith from them.

Aidan and I have been praying for Jacob and many conversations regarding death and heaven were inspired by Jacob. We were very sad to hear the news of Jacob’s death. Aidan asked many questions about where Jacob was and what he was doing. He asked if his body had any more germs in it. He asked if we would ever see Jacob again. He also asked if his mom, dad and brothers were sad. He asked which direction heaven was so that he could blow bubbles up to Jacob. As I answered Aidan’s questions, it became apparent that I wasn’t sad for Jacob and his short 6 years on Earth. I was sad for his family who mourns his loss. I was sad for his brothers who may have a hard time understanding why Jacob isn’t around to play anymore. I was sad for his mom and dad, that they wouldn’t be able to hold their precious son anymore. However, I was at peace with the fact that Jacob accomplished more in his 6 years than many people do in a lifetime. (If you check out his website, you will see that this little boy has touched so many people, near and far.)

When we received the call about Uncle Frank, we were in shock. He had no history of heart disease and was an active, healthy man…but still, a massive heart attack took his life. I was sad for his wife and two sons. I was sad for all of his family and friends. It was a very difficult funeral, but I am so grateful for the time that I did know Uncle Frank. I was concerned about the impact a second death, in a week, would have on Aidan. I was concerned about his attending a funeral and what would go through his little mind. However, he understood about as much as a 4 year-old mind could. His questions were very similar and as innocent as his questions about Jacob’s death. Are Uncle Frank’s germs gone? Why are there matchbox cars in his casket? Is Uncle Frank with Jesus? Is Uncle Frank still happy? My answer to this last question, is “You bet, little guy, you bet!!” At the funeral luncheon, Uncle Frank was the obvious missing link. As I walked through the hall, I just expected to see him there. It was his deep, genuine laugh that was missing. This was a man that, when he laughed, he REALLY laughed. He never faked his happiness. His presence was known through is laugh and genuine happiness. His presence was always known by his infectious smile, a smile that beamed through his eyes. This was something that I took for granted. However, I am at peace with the fact that he is in a better place. A place with no heart trouble. A place where he can laugh all of the time…and because of that, a place where he will truly be at home. We’ll miss you Uncle Frank!!

I have learned a lot this past week about death…and life!! Thank you Jacob, for teaching me to celebrate life, appreciate the miracle of life that has been given to me and to hug my little miracle a little longer, and a little harder each day!! Thank you Uncle Frank for always making me smile and for being a ray of sunshine on our family. I know you will continue to shine down on us in the many difficult days ahead. Thank you Aidan for bringing out the positive side of death and for adding that honest innocence to very dark days.

"Bubbles to Heaven"