Yesterday I had an experience that I hope to never be a part of again. On Sunday our pastor told us about a friend of her 10 year old son. He went into to hospital on Friday for a seemingly minor issue, was diagnosed with lukemia on Saturday, had a stroke and was dead on Sunday morning. There was no way to have seen it in advance, so there were not opportunities for family or friends to say goodbye.
She proceeded to tell us that the family did not have a church or pastor. She knew that she could volunteer our space, which she did, and we would welcome this grieving family with open arms, which we did. I made sure that Amy knew thta I could be at church for as much time as needed. When the family told her that they wanted to show a movie (slideshow) that was made about his life, Amy dropped me an email. Luckily my office is flexible enough that I can volunteer for things like this when they are important.
Our church is not big. On Sunday's we have seating set up for ~250. (We don't have pews, we have movable chairs. Very good idea when you only have one gathering place in your building.) The staff moved more chairs into the sanctuary to bump up seating to 325 on the floor. Chairs were added to the choir loft, too. As we began to see the number of people coming to the service, we began to add seating to our narthex, which we counted at 75 sitting. People were literally standing in the aisles.
This boy was only ten years old, but had lived his entire life in one place. His community knew him. His private school knew him and a ton of teachers came out. His fathers office has representatives, too. When all was said and done, we counted at least 450 people in attendance for the service.
He was ten. His family had only lived in Maryland for 10 years, but their friends, co-workers and community were all present. It was an incredible experience. But I don't want to do it again.
I could not watch the slideshow. Too many pictures are identical to ones that I have just taken of Abby. First food. Sitting for the first time. There weren't even graduation pictures. He didn't make it that far.
I hugged Abby a little tighter yesterday. I will hug her even tighter today.
I pray that none of us - no parent ever - has to have this experience.