Mom and I are sitting at the kitchen table of our new home. I am four-years-old. I am eating a grilled cheese and ham sandwich. It is so yummy.
Mom always butters the bread before putting it in the oven, and the grease marks show up on the ever-present white paper plates we use for our lunches. After I eat, Mom sometimes gives me a little felt-tip marker and lets me draw designs in black ink on the plate around the grease marks. I hope she will let me do that today.
The yellow phone on the wall starts ringing. Mom stands up and answers it. I keep eating. It is the best sandwich ever. She does not talk for long and comes back to the table.
There are tears in her eyes.
“What’s wrong, Mom?” I ask. “Who was that?”
Mom looks at me. “It was bad news, son. Julie died.”
Julie lived in our old neighborhood and had been battling cancer since before we moved. Not long ago, one of her legs was amputated in an attempt to fight off the disease.
She was courageous through all the challenges she faced, always smiling. Always nice to me, the little neighbor boy up the street. She was 13-years-old. Until now, I have never personally known anyone who died.
“Will she go to Heaven, Mom?” By the time I was born, my family had stopped attending church for various reasons. However, Mom had taught me about God, Jesus, and Heaven very early on.
“Yes, she will. Remember, no one ever hurts there. She is not sick anymore.”
“Does she have both of her legs again now?” I ask.
“Yes, she does, and she is running again up in Heaven. She is happy.”
I look back at my sandwich, which I had been so joyfully eating only a moment before. Now, my whole world is different. Julie is gone.
“Mom, I was hungry before. But now I am not hungry anymore. Why?”
“It’s because you’re sad about Julie,” she says. She holds me in her arms, and I cry.
I never finish the best sandwich ever.
* * *
Though our families unfortunately lost touch soon thereafter, I still remember Julie some forty years later because of how kind she always was to me.
I do not recall her family’s name, but today, I pray for them.
Please bless the surviving family of my childhood friend, Julie. I am sure, Father, they still feel the void of her absence every day. May You continue to lift them up and remind them that she is with You. May You lead any of them who are not yet saved to You, and may You walk even closer with those already saved. May You always provide them with happy memories when their hearts feel sad.
In the blessed name of Jesus I pray.
* * *
In retrospect, I know now in her own moment of sadness, my Mom had to make difficult decisions as far as how to answer the questions of four-year-old me. She chose right.
Though it was very upsetting, two of the comforts I had about the death of Julie when I was a child were that she would feel better and that she would be in Heaven.
Indeed, I will get to see Julie again in the Perfect Place. That still brings me comfort.
Thank you for reading. May God bless you.
“But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves.”