While driving to the track this morning, a lightbulb clicked on in my brain: if we really believe our lost loved ones live on in spirit, why do we say “rest in peace?” Living beings don’t rest eternally. They soar and swoop and visit, glide and meander somewhere in the universe, right? Sometimes we don’t know what we believe. My son’s classmate died suddenly last week while playing basketball (I know, profoundly and absolutely sad) and honestly I, even I, lost my tongue when trying to talk with him about it. What do you say to your little boy’s eyes when the death is down the hall? Which words do you choose that won’t frighten but won’t delude? How do both soothe and warn? I made sure not to say or imply that his classmate was somewhere resting. Actually, I didn’t say much at all. I moved close to my boy, kept my eyes on his, and just listened and listened as he worked through the how, when and why of the young man’s death. After a while, my son made his way. He concluded that his schoolmate was having fun in Heaven because ten is too young to go to Hell. I stepped into this spacious frame relieved that my son had made it himself. I’m happy he sees his friend not stuck in eternal slumber, but alive in a high place living it up. At least it’s a start.
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