You know, right now, my life is all about the life of a 6 year old. Ballet classes. Chess classes. Piano recitals. Playdates and birthday parties and Mo Willems books. Assurances that she doesn’t need to decide this week whether she is going to be an artist or an entomologist or a veterinarian when she grows up. There is time to decide. I love listening to her tell me about her interpretation of the world, and the events that she observes. I love her questions. It is such a wonderful age, full of such joy and discovery, and although they share so many common characteristics, 6 year olds have such clearly defined personalities.
I keep watching the videos of interviews with the parents of the children, all ages 6 and 7, who were killed in the shooting. The little artist who loved the sea, the little girl whose father said she was the family’s little CEO, the mischievous little boy, the little boy who wanted to know how old he had to be to sing on stage, the little girl who loved horses, whose parents promised her a pony for her 10th birthday. I don’t know why I do it, but I keep watching these videos. And I weep.
I weep because these innocent lives were lost, and these children will never reach their dreams. They will never fulfill their potentials. They are gone.
You Shin, believe that they are in heaven. Their parents believe that they are in heaven. Holding hands with their friends. Under the loving supervision of Jesus and their principal and their beloved teachers. Looking down lovingly on their families.
These parents say that they believe this. Then why are they crying? Why are they mourning? Shouldn’t they be celebrating? So many of the reporters interviewing the parents believe this too. Why are they fighting back tears? The first responders, who set up a triage station in hopes of saving some lives. Why aren’t they happy? These kids could have lived a few more years. They could have sinned. They could have lost their chance at an eternity in paradise. Why aren’t all these believers happy?
According to you Shin, these innocent little 6 and 7 year olds get a free ticket to heaven. If they had lived a few more years, they most certainly would have had the opportunity to sin, and they might have failed the audition to get into heaven and they would have been condemned to death or hell or whatever you think happens to those of us who don’t pass your god’s tests.
So why aren’t you celebrating, Shin? I know you find the question of whether stuff is predestined very interesting. But whether they were saved by these brutal murders, or whether they really had no potential to lose because it was their destiny to die so young, isn’t it wonderful that they are guaranteed an ETERNITY of wonderfulness?
I hear the parents, talking about their dead children as angels in heaven, and the parents are so clearly suffering. Really suffering. If they really believed, wouldn’t they be celebrating? I can’t help but feel that on some level, they really know it is not true. Their children are gone. Gone. Gone forever. They are not holding hands on clouds and taking turns sitting in Jesus’s throne. Their lives are over, and their parents know it. Their parents mourn the ponies they will never ride and the paintings they will never paint and the songs that they will never sing and the footprints they will never again leave on a beach. I mourn with them. I mourn because I feel with every inch of my being, that these kids were should have experienced these things. And so much more.
Like every parent, I imagine how I would feel if I were the parent of one of these children. I try to imagine how I would feel as me. And then I try to imagine how I would feel if I were a believer. I try to imagine a parallel situation. And this is the best that I can do.
I imagine, that 20 years from now, my beautiful daughter has fulfilled her life’s dream, and is selected to be part of a small, elite crew, whose mission is to colonize Mars. I will never see her again. I will not dance at her wedding. I will not snuggle my future grandchildren, and spoil them with grandmotherly gifts. I will be cheated out of the future that I had imagined. But my daughter will be happy.
How would I feel? Sure, there would be nights that I might privately cry a little bit out of selfishness, perhaps a little resentful about the fact that I did not get to enjoy the parts of my daughter’s life that I felt entitled to enjoy. But mostly, I would be happy. Happy for her. Proud. There is nothing I want more than my daughter’s happiness. And if I believed that she was happy, fulfilled, living out her potential, that joy would far outweigh my selfish feelings of being cheated out of anticipated milestones.
I would miss her. But if she were well, if she were happy, I would celebrate. Her joy, her well-being, would outweigh my selfish feelings of not having her near me.
If these parents really really really believe that their kids hit the jackpot, skipped the audition and went straight to paradise for all of eternity, why are they not celebrating?
I can’t help but feel that deep down, as much as they want to believe, they know it is not true.