…and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. Eccl 12:7
This is a morbid verse. I seem to be drawn to dwell on morbid things since losing a child. Verses like these consume me because this is the reality where my heart and mind live. I have to come to grips with the spiritual reality of where my son is now. I have to know what happened to him on that day his spirit departed this world, and almost broke my will to live.
Verses like these give me space to try to enter into his experience, of transitioning from mortal life to eternal life in the spirit. Things I’ve understood from afar, have now been brought near. Once I was happy for these things to be at arms length. My son’s death has brought them into my soul.
I can’t pass verses like these by. They demand my somber reflection. They require my engagement to reassemble my shattered mind. I must complete the story of my son’s life. My last look upon his form was in a casket in the funeral home where he would be buried in the earth a few steps away. His face lifeless, his flesh hard and cold. His spirit departed. The casket was closed and we lowered his body into the cold earth almost two years ago, on March 9th of 2020.
How do we reconcile the finality of such a horror?
Life is such an amazing thing. Every birth of my four children inspired awe. One day we go to bed in the status quo of our lives. The following day we go to bed with a new little member of our family. Where did this little creature come from, this precious little being who has their own personality, their own likes and dislikes, their own temperment. Little creations that God gave to us, filled with the breath of His spirit. A treasure.
And then, one day, I gaze into the lifeless eyes of this precious gift. These bright blue eyes that once sparkled, that once looked at me with longing, for affection, for notice, for my love. Had Joseph been alive to see his son executed, the sword that pierced Mary’s heart would have pierce his. I know, because that sword cleaves my heart every day. An invisible boulder fallen upon my soul, trapping me under it’s unyielding weight.
I can’t explain how God took the dust of this earth to fashion us, and breathe the breath of life into us. But He did. My children are the most precious flesh and blood testimony of God’s giving of life. Four precious lives entrusted to me as a father.
And now I have a son whose dust has returned to the earth. That’s hard to take. His six foot 3 frame, his broad shoulders, his smile, his brilliant blue eyes, these have all turned to dust. His youthful spirit is gone. It has departed. I saw his making, and I saw his unmaking. I saw his first breath, and I saw him empty of breath. I saw him with spirit, and I saw the shell of his body without a spirit.
Where did his spirit go? It returned to the Lord who gave it.
I never saw when God gave him his spirit, and I didn’t see when his spirit left. But I know where his spirit went. It returned to God who gave it to him almost nineteen years ago. It pains me that I am no longer able to care for my son. But it comforts me to know that, though his dust remains in the earth, his spirit has returned to the very one who so generously gave it to us. My son is in better care than I could ever hope to provide. Though the sword is still in my heart, and the boulder still on top of me, I can rest, and I can live in hope that I will one day join him in the presence of our God, who gives life and receives it back.