Yesterday, I had to call my eldest son, who’s taking his first college finals this week, and tell him that one of his good friends just passed away at the University of Minnesota. How do you share that news? How is it that you spend your last 40 years suffering too many sudden deaths to count — so many that you quit the career of your dreams to write books about them — yet you have absolutely no idea how to help your children cope?
More than that, as is the case with any death, you are helpless. I’ve written about the hugs you get when people close to you die. The person looks at you with puppy dog eyes, is speechless and just when you think you can keep it together, they hug you. It’s a welcome hug. A hug of helplessness. But there is no keeping it together once they hug you. The tears come then and it’s okay. But it $ucks. And that is my favorite way to describe it. It $ucks. And I use the $ in that case so I won’t get censored because it is truly, the most eloquent way for me to describe untimely death. It $ucks.
So instead of dealing with death, I will deal with life. Jake Anderson was a great kid. I went on two international mission trips with him through our church and he was the kind of kid whose smile lit up a room. I cannot begin to imagine what Kristi, Bill, Emily and Luke are dealing with now, facing Christmas with this shock and loss to their family. All I can do is pray for them and be so very grateful for their faith.
When your kids are little, you think parenting will get easier as they get older. In some ways it does, but I know now, parenting just morphs. It doesn’t really get easier or harder. Just like life, it changes.
I am grateful for the strength of our little community who pulls it together in the time of need, our wonderful church without whom I would not survive, and the love of God who makes all things possible.
Just last week I heard someone say “Whenever your heart breaks, it lets in light.” That struck me. I loved it. My wish for the Anderson family is light. Let the light of your love for Jake into your hearts. Know that your community, your church and everyone who knew Jake, is here for you.
Let in the light.
PS: On the Jamaica Mission Trip, at the end of every work day, if you were lucky enough to be in Pastor’s van, you’d get to be a part of a Harry Belafonte (Jamaica’s pride and joy!) singalong. I stumbled upon this video today and realized that the chorus of “Daylight’s come and me wanna go home” is especially fitting now for Jake. As hard as it is for his loved ones to see him go, he is home now. Rest in Peace, Jake.