Oct 25, 2013


It happened today.  Today was the day I had to tell my children that one of their peers, a boy they knew from acting class, liked, and considered a “buddy”, died tragically in a car accident. And despite the fact that our family is more versed in the ideas of death and dying than the average, I was not prepared for this.  We were not prepared for this.

I don’t believe you can prepare for this.

Reading his pocket bible before class. Photo by Anesa Beilfuss
Garrett turned 11 years old today.  Yes, it was his birthday.  And while, no matter what, an 11 year old dying is simply awful - the idea that he died on his birthday makes it so much more painful.  So much more gut wrenching.  Because I can’t get away from the thought that, instead of planning a birthday party with balloons and cake, Garrett’s mother is planning a funeral. 

When I was talking to Quinn, this seemed to make things so much worse.  So we talked about how great birthday mornings usually are: you get to pick what you want for breakfast, and you maybe get to bring treats to school, and maybe everyone has to be nice to you, and you have presents and games and fun to look forward to. So we decided that Garrett went to school today with a smile and happy thoughts. And we are going to hold that in our hearts and not think about his last moments. We hope his last thoughts were good ones. We pray that they were. We cannot allow ourselves to fathom any alternative.

My kids knew Garrett from acting class.  He was a bright, sensitive, adorable kid that Quinn took to right away.  Quinn doesn’t take to a lot of people, but perhaps it was their shared love of all things zombie that bonded them.  Garrett, I’m told, wrote a hilarious skit about how zombies shouldn’t be feared - they are simply misunderstood. It ended with Garrett commenting that he was hungry, and then exclaiming, “Oh look! A fat guy!” and running off-stage.  I’m not exactly sure that I got the whole story, because my almost 13-year-old who refuses to cry about anything, was sobbing so hard it was difficult to understand him. And there was absolutely nothing I could do to make it better.

When Quinn was five, his beloved great-uncle passed away suddenly late on Christmas day. We had spent the day with Great Uncle Ken and the rest of the family, and I thought it would be a difficult concept for Quinn to process - that one moment Uncle Ken was there, and the next he wasn’t (Claire, at three, was oblivious).  

When I sat down to explain to Quinn, a cherubic five year old, how his adored Uncle Ken had passed on, the first death in the family for Quinn... he began to smile.  I was concerned that my abnormally bright son was just not quite grasping the idea of death and dying, worried that he was confused, having just seen “the Greats” the night before, so the words tumbled out faster. Quinn smiled brighter. And brighter. Eventually, I ran out of words, and breathlessly asked him if he understood what I was saying.

Quinn, with the most beautiful smile on his dimpled face said, “Yeah! Now I have an angel in Heaven who knows me!”

I reminded Quinn of that story tonight. And he remembered. And he looked up, and said, “Hey Garrett. I’m not going to kill zombies in Minecraft anymore. Because maybe you’re right, and they’re all just misunderstood.”

Rest in peace, sweet boy. You will be missed.

No comments:

Post a Comment