Today I wiped the dust off of your cross. It’s the one we took off of your casket.  I can’t believe I just typed that word, casket.

Son and casket don’t go together. How did it come to this? We took that cross because any little piece of something that was once associated with my Tristan is precious to me. Even something you never saw or touched.

The cross was magnetic so it found its way to our fridge amongst all the other fridge magnets. It looks out of place just like your absence. Has it been so long that dust could gather? It seems like yesterday to me, and also a million years ago.

Today I just realized that your cross also stands for the letter “t”. T for Tristan. Did you know that your dad chose your name? I chose all the others, McKenna, Greyson, and Sawyer. But he named his second-born son. And it fit you to a T.

When we bestowed that name upon our little baby boy we were ignorant of all it held. Curls and dimples, a hunger for deep questions, and a ready compassion for the downtrodden. Until you became downtrodden yourself.

Then like a dusty sunbeam, we saw all that death brings floating around us and settling down to be at home, gathering, gathering until it choked the breath out of us:

  • loss
  • pain
  • bereavement
  • weakness
  • trauma
  • mourning
  • suicidal ideation
  • depletion
  • grief
  • heartache
  • lament
  • anger
  • apathy
  • terror
  • ill health
  • PTSD

But God doesn’t let awful things happen without redeeming them, or awful would win. Awful is not more powerful than God. 

Our most powerful Yahweh knew what your times would hold, as He knew what our times would hold. (Ps. 31:15) “My times are in Your hand.”  We believe He had a purpose for your 18 years, 363 days not only because He says so but because of what He’s already done. Here’s what He’s redeemed from the first list:

  • dependence on God
  • closeness to Him
  • single-minded longing
  • freedom from ties to this world
  • stronger belief
  • deeper faith
  • proven trust
  • service to others
  • receiving help
  • rooted friendships
  • compassion
  • mercy
  • heavenly-mindedness
  • urgency for Christ’s return
  • allegiance to Jesus
  • overcoming 
  • surviving sorrow upon sorrow

We would’ve never gone through the first list to receive what’s in the second. Maybe that’s why God kept us ignorant of His sovereign plan. Would David or Joseph or Job have chosen their lives if given the choice? Would Mary or Eve or the blind man or the leper have said yes to their suffering? Even Jesus balked at God’s plan. But because God is all wise and all good, we can say with Jesus, not my will but Thine be done. Each of those precious saints can now see how their suffering played out in God’s greater story.

Our fridge will keep your cross even though it looks out of place there. It’s a reminder that one day death will be out of place. It will be abolished. And I’ll get your curls and dimples forever.

Dear God, thank you for recording the history of suffering and showing us how You redeem it. We are not alone. Tristan could be swapping stories with those saints right now. Tell him I can’t wait to hear all about it. And while I’m waiting down here, save me from myself. In Jesus name, amen.