My friend, James, was diagnosed a few years ago, as a young man, with a rare type of "old people" cancer. He had a wife and three small children that he loved very much. In one of our talks, he said that he was able to keep on keeping on because he had Faith. He knew that God was taking care of him, that God has a Plan, and that His plan was better than James's.
James said that he was so grateful that he had Faith, because he didn't know how someone who didn't Believe could manage to keep from curling up in a ball and just giving up.
This thought was echoed by my friend, Stacie, when her infant son was diagnosed with a very rare, nearly always fatal kind of cancer. Faith was what kept her going, gave her the strength to fight, and comforted her when Cash lost his earthly battle, but won the Heavenly one.
Last week, my husband's coworker, who was also the Branch Manager's 23-year-old son, died in a horrific accident on the job. The responding Highway Patrol officers identified the vehicle by running the tags on the trailer that he was pulling and came back to my husband's workplace to ask the person in charge who would have been in possession of the truck and trailer, and hopefully, get next of kin information. Obviously, if they had known that they were speaking to Jacob's next of kin, their delivery would have been a bit different.
My husband had to step into his mentor's shoes to handle filing insurance claims, workman's comp paperwork, notifying the appropiate brass at Corporate, pulling in crews from all over the region to keep their small store running, and also comforting the man that has come closest to filling the father role that my "father"-in-law voluntarily left vacant. Thing is, Rick, (my husband's boss) isn't a Believer.
What does one say to a non-believer that is in the middle of a horrific, tragic storm? All of the comforting things that my Wonderful Husband could come up with were things that his friend doesn't believe. They brought no comfort. They brought no understanding. They brought no peace. All that was left was "We're here for you. We love you. We know that your heart is breaking, and we think that it sucks, too."
Jacob's parents are a mess. They're going through the motions, and both of them have dead eyes. Rick is clinging to his wife, my husband and the other guy that he's mentored "since [they] were pups". The memorial service was yesterday, and it was a fill-in-the-blank memorial service. Prayers - check. Pictures - check. Stranger relating stories that he got third hand from whatever family and friends he could corner - check. Maybe we should throw in a song - check. It ended with an announcement that the family was thankful to everyone for coming, but that they were not prepared to greet anyone at this time, so they would be exiting first and then the rest of us would be dismissed.
They're curling up into their own little balls, and the people that love them are forced to stand on the sidelines and find something to do with our hands.