Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Sean's Question by Sara Zinn


I wasn't prepared for our son's question. He was only four years old so it didn't seem that significant. I thought it was cute and laughed it off. Part of the surprise was that we weren't church people and our two sons had had a limited amount of Christian influence. I have no idea what prompted that question.

"When I go to heaven, will you and Daddy come and visit me there?" Sean stared at me and waited for an answer.

When I didn't respond, he asked, "Will you?"

"Yes, dear, you don't need to worry. We'll visit you."

My words satisfied him so he went out to play. At the time I didn't think much about what he asked.

Sean had been born with a heart murmur and doctors told us that many children outgrow the defect. He did everything any other boy of his age did, and he hadn't shown any special religious interest. I would probably have forgotten his insistent question except for what happened just before Christmas.

At a family Christmas party, my husband, Jerry, and I had a delightful time with Sean and his two-year-old brother, Chad. The room was filled with food and laughter. After dinner we had square dancing and nearly everyone tried it, including the children. Relatives snapped pictures. Everyone appeared to be having a wonderful time.

"What's wrong with Sean?" a girl called out.

"Is Sean dead?" a boy asked.

I ran over to where our son lay on the floor. Jerry and I and others tried to rouse him, but Sean didn't respond. Someone called 911. My uncle and others administered CPR. They weren't able to get any response.

This can't be happening to Sean. He's our son and we love him. I hadn't prayed since I was a child, but I silently cried out, God, if you can hear me, please help our son.

In what seemed like an extremely long time, but probably was only minutes, a team of paramedics arrived. They worked on Sean and seemed determined not to give up. One of them used a defibrillator to shock his heart.

One of the paramedics asked about his health history, his doctor, and medication. They rushed him to the nearest hospital. We prepared to follow the ambulance. Just before we left, I rushed over to an uncle, who I knew was a serious Christian, and begged him, "Please pray for Sean."

"I've already been praying," he said. "I'll continue to pray."

At the hospital, a young doctor ran into the room where they had taken our son. Minutes later, the doctor came out to see us. "We're going to try to put in a pacemaker," he said and hurried away. Not long afterward, the same doctor came back out, looked at Jerry and me, and said, "I'm sorry. We weren't able to your save your little boy."

"No, no," I said repeatedly. The tears flowed and I couldn't stop them.

A nurse led us to a chapel where we could begin the grieving process. It felt as though the loss of Sean had sucked the life from my soul. The nurse gave me a tranquilizer and I was able to calm down.

We left the hospital, but Jerry and I didn't sleep much Christmas Eve. The next day the grief hit us. I couldn't stop crying. We sat with family members, crying, talking, questioning, and searching for answers.

Many relatives and friends tried to comfort us, but the one person I most remember was a friend of my aunt named Mary Lou. She came to our house and spent Christmas Day with us. Several times she put her arms around each of us and listened when we talked and held us when we cried. She also prayed with us. She spoke of Jesus as though he was her best friend and was in the room with us.

She let me know that it was all right for me to pray, so I did. I prayed from the depths of my heart. I can't explain in words, but a change came over me. I believed in a loving God and was at peace.

Later on Christmas Day, Mary Lou's husband came to our house. He was kind and gentle and expressed his love. A number of people, many whom I hadn't known, reached out to us. Because of the change that had come over me, I began to think of them as the physical arms of Jesus that enfolded us.

The people in a small church in our town that Jerry and I had avoided for years reached out to us. Through a small-group study and their personal visits, they became a lifeline to us.

Because of their human love, I became convinced of a divine love that understood how I felt. Many times I thought, God watched while his own son died. Surely he could feel the pain inside my heart. Because of the death of his son on earth, my son would live in heaven.

Thirty years later, the miracle of the Christmas season still holds a double meaning for me. That was the time when we lost our son; that was the time we found God's loving son in our lives.

I can still hear Sean's question, "When I go to heaven, will you and Daddy come and visit me there?"

I can answer with complete certainly, "Yes, my precious son, I'll visit you and stay with you in heaven."

1 comment:

  1. Another wonderful, inspiring story. I love them all!

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