Lead Me, Guide Me, Walk Beside Me...
The year is winding down, and my next post will simply be a reflection of the year, in pictures. Look for it just after Christmas; it should be fun. Today, however, I wanted to share an experience we had just a few weeks ago.
I’ve said it before; life with a special needs child is like an E-ticket ride on a roller coaster, filled with thrilling, unusual, and sometimes expensive, ups and downs. The amusement park that houses this E-ticket contrivance is picturesquely located at Wits End, nestled precariously on a cliff overlooking a jagged rocky coastline of eddies, riptides, and whirlpools. The damp air, which is whipped to frenzy by the blustering coastal winds, can leave one soaked, and chilled to the bone. The briny air, thick with salt, masks the burning sensation in your the eyes caused by myriads of tears. Depending on one’s perspective, the landscape, though fluctuating is by far the most stunning ever laid eyes on.
Shortly after our Target meltdown, Ethan began watching Saturday’s Warrior. He has loved this movie for years, and often reenacts the closing scene where Jimmy Flinders stands alone and slowly raises his sword skyward, determined on his knight’s errand to stand against the ever-darkening world. It is a great play, now a movie, and our family has loved the soundtrack since it first appeared on stage in the mid 70’s.
I took a moment to look over his shoulder as he was watching the various video clips of it on YouTube. As he got to a particular clip I suddenly realized what I had seen at Target. As I’ve said before, most everything Ethan does or says can be traced back to some clip or sound bite from a movie or television show he has seen. Some how in his mind he believes the emotions he is feeling can best be expressed through the particular words or actions from the scene he has chosen.
There they were, right before me…
“No pressure dad, I simply wanted to let you know that by making me wait to set up the Christmas tree I have linked those emotions to the same emotions I would express if my favorite sister, a twin no doubt, had just died, and was now in Heaven with my little sister!”
Two weeks later, as I sat at the computer finishing up some homework, Ethan came in and suddenly announced,
“Dad, I don’t want to die!”
“I’m sorry, what?”
“I don’t want to be in the grass, and get dirty. I don’t want to die like Brigham.”
“What brought this on? Come here; sit on my knee… Why are you worried about dying?”
“Dad, I don’t want to go to heaven. That’s because, because I’ll get dirty being in the grass.”
He then pointed to the computer, wanting me to search something on the Internet. I opened a new page in Google and pushed the keyboard towards him. He began to type search several words, some he knew how to spell and others he did not. Once he typed what he wanted he clicked the search button, then clicked on Images.
I was struck by what he was searching for. He was searching for images of spirit body or bodies in Heaven. He even Googled his little brother Brigham's name to see if the Internet had a picture of him in Heaven.
Unsatisfied by the images he found, my wife, who had joined us, took down our picture of Brigham, taken at the hospital, and showed it to him. Ethan sat with her for a minute on the edge of the bed staring at the picture. When the minute was done, he stood up, and walked out of the room.
I'm not sure if we answered his question, or if he was simply satisfied because in the picture, Brigham, who was dead, was not dirty from "being in the grass." Either way we never heard another word from him about it.
That following Sunday, while I was attending another ward sacrament meeting, the congregation began to sing an very traditional LDS hymn, I Am A Child of God.
I have sung this song no less than a thousand times.
I knew this song.
I was mistaken!
As we sang, I was reminded of my experience with Ethan. When we began the second verse, suddenly my mind opened up to a simple idea, and the words began to sound in my head, in parts. Ethan's part was sung to me, while my part (italicized) was sung as a prayer:
I am a child of God,
And so my needs are great;
Help me to understand his words,
Before it grows to late.
Lead me, guide me, walk beside me,
Help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do
To live with him someday.