When my son was placed in my arms for the first time and I got to see the little person who had been growing within my womb for the last nine months, I remember thinking "This is our son." And he was. But really, he was God's son first. We all are. We are given to our earthly parents by God. The parents have the task of raising these children to know, love and serve our Creator and to look forward to the day that we reunite with Him in Heaven. It is a big job and I was just really beginning to understand that when Ben joined our family.
Seven and a half years later, I was standing in a little white chapel, packed full of family and friends, saying good-bye to my son. I honestly don't remember much of that day. I have little pieces here and there that stand out. I remember Jack fussing in my arms and someone taking him for me. I remember the smell of incense and the priest's comforting voice. I remember walking out of the chapel behind the casket while the choir (of which I was a member and they were like my second family) sang "How Great Thou Art". It seemed as though their voices were being lifted into the clouds each time the refrain was sung. I wondered how they were able to sing, because I couldn't. To this day, I cannot sing any of the songs from Ben's funeral Mass. The song I wanted the choir to sing was "You are Mine". It's beautiful melody and message had always been uplifting for me:
"Do not be afraid, I am with you."
I had such guilty feelings for not being there with Ben when he died. He was alone in bed. But the more I prayed, the more I realized that he wasn't alone. I received a strong, clear vision of Mary gently taking one of his small hands while he gazed up at her and then Jesus taking his other hand and his head gently turning to look into Jesus' eyes. They then started walking hand in hand away from me toward Heaven. Whenever angels appear to people in the Bible, the first thing they always say is "Do not be afraid". I know Ben was not afraid. How could he have been?
"I have called you each by name."
"Why my child?" I think it is impossible to not think that at some point in the grief that engulfs and consumes you in the wake of such a tragedy. Ben loved going to Mass and it showed. So much so, that our priest told me "I have been praying for our future priest the whole way here", upon arriving at the hospital that day. I realize that God had different plans for Ben. He was called to be here only a short time, and I know I won't fully understand why while I am still living. God called his name sooner than I would have liked.
"Come and follow me. I will bring you home."
God promises such wonderful things if only we choose Him. With complete trust, Ben learned and believed in God. He never doubted what I taught him. I like to think that Ben let me know that he had arrived at his new home in Heaven the night he died. There was a thunderstorm that was not forecast. It was crazy. The sky was several different colors, the wind was wild, and the lightening was right on top of us. It was as if Ben had found God's "weather machine" and was seeing what he could do. Ben was notorious for testing out how things work. I remember sitting on the couch with my family and we were actually able to smile at the idea of God gently shaking His head at Ben while he pulled levers and pushed buttons.
"I love you, and you are mine."
God loves us all and we are His. This sentence says so much in such little, simple words. We don't have to be smart to understand this. We don't really have to understand at all, we just need to believe it. Ben did.