By Karen Hendricks
It’s hard to find the right words to say when someone dies… especially when that someone is a child. One of my children’s classmates died yesterday. David was an 8th grader diagnosed with cancer just a few weeks ago. It seemed to happen in the blink of an eye.
His mother and I were pregnant at the same time, comparing notes on our growing babies, about 15 years ago. David was born a few weeks before my daughter and soon they were sitting in our laps next to one another at toddler story time at our local library. Before long, they were in grade school together, learning to read and count, running and laughing on the playground. I remember David as a child who was always happy and smiling. He was one of “my kids” several times as I chaperoned school field trips. Then the awkward middle school years began and it was no longer cool for my daughter to admit she was friends with “boys.” But they had many classes together, including this year during 8th grade on the same “team.” David was hospitalized and diagnosed with cancer about three weeks ago. His classmates made stacks of cards and told him how much they missed him. When the tragic news came yesterday, my daughter said time stood still in the classrooms–talk and tears revolved around David for the rest of the day.
The only words I know how to express at a time like this are words of Christian love and faith. I pray that David’s family can find healing in time, taking comfort in the happy memories that David left behind. There is no doubt he is now an angel, pain-free, in heaven.
In the book When Mothers Pray by Cheri Fuller, there are 17 chapters that address the many different types of prayers that we as mothers can offer, as a way to guide our children on their paths through life. Chapter 4 is “The Toughest Prayer: The Prayer of Release.” Fuller writes, “ It doesn’t matter what you call it—relinquishment, release, letting go—when the situation demands it or when you sense a nudging to give your child to God, it’s a scary proposition and one of the most difficult problems we face in prayer. We moms were made for nurturing our children, not relinquishing them.”
Prayers of release, Fuller writes, can be offered for children with medical conditions, those needing surgery—basically in times when our children’s problems are too large in scale and scope for us as parents to manage and control them. It’s a tough point to reach. But ultimately, Fuller says, it’s a reminder that our children truly aren’t ours but God’s. While it’s our job to care for our children as best we can, all children are gifts from God. We entrust their care to God when we can no longer do so on our own.
Please say a prayer today for David’s family, for all families touched by cancer, for all families grieving the loss of children. May our words bring help and healing.
Peace, love and hugs to you…
To learn more about cancer in children, from the American Cancer Society, click here
For a list of resources recommended by the American Cancer Society for families who have lost a child to cancer, click here