Monday, July 8, 2013
It was the first book Tim ever gave me, way back in 1992, and we both really liked it. I was surprised because Tim wasn't that into God back then, and the book has a strong spiritual focus. He and I had no idea then that we would marry and one day be raising an unusual little boy of our own. One who would surprise us with his wisdom and his steadfast love of God. We didn't know that it would take us a long time to learn to appreciate his gifts. Or that we'd too be dealing with a freak accident and grappling with God's role in all of it, the way the narrator must with the death of his mother.
The narrator, Owen's best friend, looks back over a lifetime of memories and pieces together the important, sacrificial plan God had for Owen's short life.
I do not claim to know what the plan was for Jack's life. I have hints here and there, glimpses of lives changed, faith strengthened, a longing for heaven, and relationships restored. I also see the other side: dreams shattered, faith in crisis, and broken relationships. It's all very interesting.
What got me thinking about Owen a little more today, after my computer started behaving normally again, was the idea that all of these strange disjointed parts of Owen led up to one critical moment of fulfilling his divine purpose.
My thoughts were not so lofty. In fact, I started thinking of just one single aspect of Jack's personality. You see, I recently re-read a letter from his Cub Scout den leader, in which she wrote of Jack's quiet, calm demeanor, his wisdom, maturity, and his thoughtfulness. She wrote of the respectful way he served as a good influence on his peers. This is similar to our own experiences with Jack and those echoed by Sunday School teachers, camp counselors, etc.
Here's the thing. His school teachers would NOT say the same. Uh-uh. No way. Their words are: smart, creative, clever, and humble. But never quiet or calm!
Let's just say Jack and the principal were not strangers.
When we hear of Jack's classroom antics, we wonder about this side of his personality. Tim and I would get so mad at him, because we knew he could focus and be diligent, so why why why would he choose to stir up his classmates with his crazy games, weird noises, and make them laugh at all the worst moments? Why did he get up once during math class and start eating his lunch? Why?
But then I think of Jack's classmates, who were his closest friends...
I know it's a stretch, but could any of this have served a purpose? Even a small one? So that when these young kids experienced the first big loss of their lives they could look back at Jack Donaldson and remember him with laughter, the kind of laughter that makes your stomach hurt and tears stream down your face? Yes, they would have cared about a quiet, obedient kid in the corner, but would they have had the stories to tell? Would they have been able to say with confidence that they KNEW him and he was a big part of their lives?
The handful of kids had been together since they were 6 years old, so I'm sure they remember the other parts of Jack too: artistic, smart, tearful, easily frustrated, kind.
But I think it's the laughter they'll remember most.