As a father, I struggled with how to explain the death to my twin boys, then 4 years old. I mean, what parent hasn’t? It’s a natural part of life and one of several conversations we never truly prepare ourselves to have with our children. Let’s be honest: There is little preparation because by some grand delusion we hope to never have to explain death to a child – especially our own.
So, I did what countless parents have done: I told my boys that Uncle Andre went to be with Jesus.
Then came the three-letter word that makes many-a-parent cringe: “Why?”
How to respond? My brain was inundated with a myriad of thoughts. Logic, reason and the absurd all demanded my full, undivided attention at the same time. Ultimately, the words trickled out, “I guess Jesus needed him more than we do down here.”
It may be a ludicrous response. I’m sure someone reading this has a straighter arrow in their quiver that would fly more true in this arena. Still, it worked.
Flash forward to last week.
While on a visit, Zachary makes his way from playing with Uncle Andre’s son, my boys’ best friend, to a room where his widow, my wife and several other long-time female friends sat huddled in conversation. On the computer screen in the room was a video of Uncle Andre on vacation. He slowly made his way across jagged rocks in some far off locale to safer ground.
Zachary, in that sweet, innocent, soft voice of his, said, “Look, Mom! Uncle Andre is in the computer! He’s trying to get out of Heaven!”
Even when we as parents don’t have the right words, innocence somehow finds a way to remind us we don’t have to. We just need to believe in simplicity and that anything is possible.