Today was an interesting day. Most days are, but this one even more so.
Thursday is one of our "school days," which means that Ferguson goes to preschool for two hours and fifteen minutes. This morning, as we were getting dressed and ready for school, I got a call from the Mrs. She seemed a little verklempt on the phone, and she quickly explained that one of the students in the special ed. department where she works had passed away suddenly and unexpectedly from what appears to have been a seizure. The student was not in her class, but was one that she worked closely with on a regular basis. Knowing that I am a police chaplain for two different local departments, she asked if there was anything I could do to help the family, and I told her I could look into it, but probably wouldn't be able to until some time after noon. More on that in a minute.
So the kids and I finished getting dressed and we went to school. After dropping the Ferguson off at his class, Han and I made our way to church for Ladies' Morning Out, where I teach a class of ladies about the names of God. This week's name that we were studying happened to be Jehovah Rophe - "The Lord My Healer." A part of my lesson was about the difficult truth that God chooses sometimes not to answer our prayers for healing in the ways that we would like. Sometimes he allows the ailment or injury to continue and linger on. While this may be the case, it is also true that whatever God does is for the good of those who love him and have been called according to his purpose. So if God doesn't answer our prayers for healing, we can take heart that God is doing something good for us. We may not know what it is just yet, but it is a reality that we must trust.
Also, I told the ladies about how God sometimes heals people through death. There are some prayers for healing that God does not answer this side of the grave. Instead, he heals a person by allowing them to die and go to be with him, where there is no sickness, no cancer, no injuries or ailments. This is the ultimate form of healing, as my friend Al Ahlquist told me one time before he died of pancreatic cancer: "Death is the ultimate form of healing." It's a difficult truth, but one that we must come to terms with: sometimes God heals through death.
After lunch the Mrs. called and asked what I could do as a police chaplain to see what was going on with the family of her now deceased student. I've been on a death notification call before and have a bit of experience with some of the processes around how the police and coroner's offices handle sudden deaths. The Mrs. relayed that the child's father had been in contact with some people at the school and had implied that he could really use some counseling. I ended up calling the city's police department and getting ahold of the chaplain that was assigned to the case. He assured me that he would get in contact with the father and talk to him and perhaps even point him to a local church or ministry that could minister to him in this time of need. I was glad that someone was able to help him, and that it turned out to be the same chaplain he had worked with when it was discovered that his child had died tragically.
The day before all this happened I had told the kids that we would go to the church to practice riding bikes in the parking lot. We told the Ferguson that we were going to start trying to ride his bike with the training wheels off - a proposition that he wasn't necessarily excited about, but seemed willing to try. Needless to say, the kids were looking forward to when Mom would return home so we could go bike riding. The Mrs. returned home from work after an understandably long and heavy day, especially after telling the other students about the tragedy, but she sucked it up and we all piled in the car after loading up the bikes.
We got to the church and immediately had the Ferguson start trying to ride without training wheels. He had the usual difficulties that kids have doing such a thing, but after a while he got the hang of it. Pretty soon he was riding long distances like a champ, although he was still a little shaky. His pride and joy were overflowing as a result of being able to ride his own two-wheeler! It was a blast to see him get the hang of it, and then to really enjoy the fact that he was able to do what he was doing. What a privilege for a parent. We celebrated with supper at a local restaurant. Below is a a short video record of the process.
In many ways, our day today was a dichotomy between the difficulties of death and the joy of life. Combine that with the fact that my head was already full of all kinds of thoughts about death, sickness, and healing. All of the news about death in our day today, combined with seeing the triumph and joy in my child's eyes as he learned to ride his bike presents a stark contrast that can make your head spin.
One family in the city mourns the tragic loss of a seemingly healthy teenage child, while another (mine) celebrates a new experience and triumph in the life of their child.