Though dead, he yet speaks

Most of my readers probably don’t know this, but I have another son besides Joshua. I say I have because I do believe in the immortality of the soul. Caleb would be 23 this October. My first male child, he lived too little but taught me so much with his short life.

My son was born with a lung deficiency and the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck didn’t help matters. He lived in the warm womb of his loving mother then moved to the cold womb of an incubator. A few days was all he had.

I was out-of-state when my wife went into labor. By the time I heard the news he was already too ill. I went to the airline to buy tickets so I could be with my family and while there I met a college roommate who had come back to our hometown to be at the funeral of his teenage brother who had succumbed to cancer. Little did I know that in a few days I was going to bury my son. I was absolutely certain that my son was going to be okay. After all, I believed in God, I was serving Him and I erroneously had it on the back of my mind that these things didn’t happen to people like me.

I gave my friend my condolences and never once mentioned that I was going to travel to see my sick son who had just been born. Part of the reason was that I didn’t know how serious his condition was. The other part was simply confidence that God would not let me down.

I arrived in the hospital and saw my son first from a distance, then from so close I could almost touch him. He had a sweet face, peaceful, almost oblivious to everything happening around him. He had four medical specialists taking care of him. His family was surrounding him with love and prayers were being offered by everyone. Next to him was a boy who never stopped crying. He had the lungs of a soccer announcer screaming “goooooollllllll!” Nobody paid attention to him. Not a one. Not even his mom. I learned later she was a 16-year-old who delivered him and fled the hospital.

You can’t miss the irony: on one corner, the baby everyone wants, surrounded by love and care, but fighting for his life with his every breath; on the other, the baby no one wants, living life fully and annoying everyone with his every breath. In the end the one with the collapsed lung died and the one whose heart would one day be broken lived.

The grief that followed my son’s death was the most intense feeling I ever had in my life. But it was also the time I felt most loved by people in our church. Out of utter darkness came the brightest light. And with every new day hope was restored brick by brick. I never lost my faith in God and never once blamed Him for taking my son.

Sometimes I feel the breeze on my face when I am driving my car with the windows down. For some reason I think of Caleb in those times and tears come down my face. I think of his beautiful face and the smile he would give his mom when she got close to him and talked to him. My son recognized his mom’s voice and his smile was love displayed in soft strokes.

My son never lived to consciously teach me anything, but his short life and swift going taught me that there is no depth of suffering in this world that can’t be overcome with the hope that we have in Christ. And I am glad I found the way and keep finding the way every day out of the mess which I tend to make around me from time to time.

Ivanildo C. Trindade