Death is a frequent topic of conversation around our house. Some people think it’s morbid, inappropriate, and weird. It’s a hard topic. It’s an awkward and uncomfortable topic. But it’s so much a part of our life, we can’t help it. My husband and children never met my dad, but we talk about Pake (Friesan for grandfather) all the time. I’ve also lost several aunts and uncles and recently my own grandfather. And I just killed three out of our four goldfish.
Death is scary in its finality. It’s terrifying actually. It’s horrible, agonizing, and gut-wrenching. It creates huge gaps that never fill. I hate it. But I can’t pretend it doesn’t exist. I can’t lie to my kids that accidents don’t happen, that some of us don’t die way too young. Because that is my life. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as age-appropriate as I can be with them. But I will not promise them a long life because I can’t.
I wrestle all the time with remembering there is so much more life than today but that Christ promises the most beautiful eternity with Him. The moments I’m snuggled up with my husband—our three rambunctious, beautiful kids sprawled all over us, watching a movie or reading a book—makes me think man, I never want this to end. When we are running around outside finding adventures at every turn I think, it can get better than this? How on earth do I teach the kids that life doesn’t begin and end with death here? How can I convince them that it’s worth it?
And in God’s infinite wisdom and grace, He does all the work for us. I was bringing my 5-year-old son to school one day, and he asked how old his Nana is.
“How old is Nana? 92?”
“That’s old. Is she going to die soon?”
“Well, hopefully not soon. But eventually. We all die. Hopefully when we are old and not little.”
“I don’t want Nana to die. I love Nana. Is she scared to die?”
“No buddy. Nana loves Jesus with all her heart and is so excited to one day finally be with Him. She asked Jesus into her heart a long time ago and has been listening to and loving Him ever since. When she dies, she gets to spend forever with Him.”
I thought that was the end of the conversation. Jackson chattered on about how he’s excited to get dentures because it means he gets to go to Heaven (I have no idea) and something about a big truck parked on the street.
And after a few seconds of silence, I heard, “Jesus, please come live in my heart. I love you so so much and I want to be with you in Heaven. Please come live in my heart.”
And cue the waterworks. Holy. Seriously, I couldn’t stop crying happy tears. Faith like a child, I tell you. He anxiously asked me if Jesus heard him which I assured him He did, and he beamed from ear to ear. All I could squeak out was a “Thank you, Jesus!” When I dropped him off at his friend’s before school I heard him saying, “I asked Jesus into my heart!” and then proceeded to talk about the truck he saw.
I have never been more thankful for generations of the faithful. That my grandmother in her steadfast faith and deep desire to serve the Lord until her dying day profoundly shaped my son’s life. In the most important way. That in the midst of my agonizing over how to teach my children the importance of becoming a Christian, God did it all for me. Through the testimony of a gentle, faithful senior.
And I’m thankful we chose to allow those hard, death-related conversations. That my son knew he could ask without fear of embarrassment or shame. That we were honest. That we didn’t pretend or mask it. And God redeemed it.
I won’t lie—it was my proudest day as a parent and I know it had absolutely nothing to do with me.