image I've wanted to write just the right words about this week's experience. However, nouns, verbs, adjectives, prepositional phrases prove inadequate to convey the amazement I've felt as my son's friend lingered a few days, enough for Tater to say, "Goodbye" and was gone in a flash, like a bright flash of lightening across a black night sky. Yes, Tater was afforded the privilege of touching, smelling, talking to his unconscious friend the day before Zach entered his final rest.
The evening of his death, Zach's parents surprised us all by attending a prayer service given in support of their struggle. When the couple arrived, the children- Zach's friends, swarmed to cling to Sally and Shawn. Sally was 10 kid deep in a sobbing throng in all directions when the director asked for us to pray prayers of comfort for her. After the second sweet prayer, a strong voiced Sally stopped everyone suddenly in their tracks with something like this, "Just so you know, I already have the comfort of the Lord. I am covered with His peace. I know you have been praying for Zach, and prayers maybe did not seem to have the outcome you may have wanted. I know you wanted Zach back. I wanted him so much myself, but we have a good God. And His plan was different. I ask that you, children, not doubt God. I suppose you'll need to question Him because we are still human, but know that He is good. Zach is with Jesus in such a beautiful and better place. Please run to God and not away from Him, because Zach wants you with him one day. So, if we could please pray for these hurting children to be comforted, that is what I'd like us to do now." And as you can imagine, that is precisely what we did. Many children, including two of mine, witnessed the horrible accident. One young person hung on the zip line for several minutes while Zach was taken down from the line beside. Another young man shared his regret for letting Zach have his place in line ahead of him. A camp staff member will have to live with his mistake. Others live in unshared pain. I'll be praying for all concerned for a while to come.
Church staff and volunteers have led the middle and high schoolers through many days of grief together. A grief counselor spoke to parents and youth. I loved that our children's pastor distinguished between feeling and truth in a session with the kids. He called attention to the fact that all feelings are very real, but they may not always be true. The leader had them call out things they had thought and felt but they knew were not God's truth, "God doesn't care. He didn't love Zach. God doesn't protect. God took Zach away. I'm not safe." Then he had then voice true words about God, "Good. Loving. Kind. Compassionate. Safe. Strong." Very powerful.
Instead of a funeral, the family and church held a celebration of Zach's life. They requested no black clothing. Nineteen dozen crisp yellow sunflowers adorned our reception area.
Now it's back to the life of a mother for me and the student roles for my brood. Though I imagine we'll never be the same.