(Our grandson, Sully, was diagnosed with leukemia at age two months. He became a patient at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN. For thirteen months he fought a courageous fight. He died at the age of fifteen months. This post and those which will follow the next three days were written in 2010 on my CaringBridge site in honor and memory of Sully. These are reflections on Easter from the heart of a grandfather in grief. This was written on Thursday night before Good Friday, 2010.)
I keep turning to the cross in these writings. I must do so again tonight, for it is late Thursday night, the night before Good Friday. As they say on news broadcasts, on this day in history, around 33 A.D. (or C.E. if you prefer), Jesus, having finished eating the Passover with his disciples, went to Gethsemane. He began to be deeply distressed and troubled….“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said…Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him [that he not need to die on the cross]. “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup [suffering and death on the cross] from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:32-36).
Earlier tonight I was reading, sitting in front of the computer. Soon the screen went into protective mode or whatever it is called, a slide show began, pictures selected randomly by the computer. Happy pictures of grandchildren, scenery shots, and then suddenly there was Sully’s little casket waiting to be lowered in the grave, followed by pictures of Sully, obviously sick, and a picture of my wife and myself standing at his open casket in the church. The next picture was the sweet, heart wrenching picture of my wife, his grandmother, holding him the afternoon before he died, Sully’s mother, our daughter, hugging her from behind. We knew he was dying. How we prayed those thirteen months, “Father, everything is possible for you. Let this hour pass from Sully. Restore him to health. Remove this horrible disease from his little body. Give him life, long life, with the joy of good health. Let him run and play and laugh without pain.”
Everything is possible with God. It seems Jesus was saying, “Father you can accomplish your purpose another way, without the cross.” It was not to be. The heavenly Father answered the pleas of his Son, his only and unique Son, with strength to endure all that came to him that night and the following day, to endure the suffering and death of the cross. After his third time of praying his prayer, of pleading for another way, pleading for his life, Jesus said, “Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! (Mark 14:41-42). With courage which came from his faith, his trust, in his Father, Jesus accepted his Father’s answer. Jesus willingly suffered and died on that cross.
Everything is possible with God. That is what Jesus said. Believing him we prayed and prayed and prayed. The hour did not pass. Restored health and life were not to be for Sully. The cup of leukemia was not removed but fully drunk. As bravely as a fifteen month old can, Sully, like so many other children, accepted God’s answer. He entrusted himself to the Father. Now we who love him find ourselves praying for this hour to pass, the hour of our grief, for the cup of loss and pain to be removed. It continues. Sully is gone. His painful struggle will always linger in our memories. Everything is possible with God. Sully’s body is still in the grave. His spirit is with his Lord. That is not going to change. God has answered. We, as all who have walked this journey, now seek to trust the Father as Jesus did, and as Sully and so many children have (and a child shall lead them).