My Daughter's Friend!

by Cliff Ravenscraft on January 21, 2005

in Blog

Question: How do you tell your five year old daughter that her four year old friend from school has just passed away? Do you even tell her at all? Do you assume that she would eventually stop asking about why her friend doesn't come to school anymore? How do you tell her without scaring her?
I've been praying about these questions the past few weeks. I suppose the answer could be different for each parent. If you don't have an Eternal Perspective on life, it may seem impossible! For me, the answer came… You tell her the truth. You pray for wisdom on how to tell her. You are gentle, loving, caring, and remain aware of every emotion and expression that she shows. You hold her. You love her. And you tell her in a gentle way that actually brings relief and gladness.
The pictures below show my daughter, Meagan, and her classmates from Kid's Academy Pre-School. I've altered both pictures as to highlight Meagan and her friend Carmen.

I recall when Meagan started school, she was so excited about all the new friends she made. She would come home and tell me about her day and all the girls she played with. A name that came up often was Carmen. I believe it was some time last year that Stephanie told me that Meagan's friend Carmen had been diagnosed with cancer. My heart sunk as I learned about her situation.
When school started back this year, this beautiful little girl had lost a lot of her hair over the summer break due to the treatments she had taken. Meagan brought up Carmen's name more this year than she did last year. I recall the first time when Meagan told me that her friend Carmen was sick. She asked if we could pray for her to feel better that night because she has been missing school a lot.
The bottom picture above is from this year's Kid's Academy Christmas Program. I had picked up Meagan from school and took some time to take pizza to her class for her birthday. Every now and then, Carmen would come to school. Over her shoulder was a machine that would supply Carmen with much needed medication. Meagan and all the other kids in her class knew that Carmen was really sick but continued to ask when Carmen was going to start feeling better.
It was just last week when my wife stopped into my office after dropping both Meagan and Matthew off at school. She sat down at my desk and started crying. She told me that she had just been told that Carmen had been diagnosed as terminal and that the cancer had spread rapidly and that she could literally go at any time. Once again, my heart sunk. I tried to comfort my wife the best that I could, but the news was very emotionally draining.
Last night, I mentioned Carmen and her situation in our cell group when discussing prayer requests. When we got home, Stephanie got a call from Meagan's teacher. Stephanie told me that Carmen had passed away.
Although Meagan did not hear about this, as I was tucking her in for bed she asked, “Daddy, will you lay down next to me and talk for a little bit?” Normally, on a cell night, putting Meagan to bed at 10:30 or 11:00pm, I would tell her that we would talk in the morning. However, I decided to lay down next to her and talk.
We talked about a few little things, the normal stuff. Out of nowhere she says… “Daddy, why is Carmen so sick?” I asked her how she felt about Carmen. She says, “Well I love her, she's my friend. I want her to feel better.” I asked her, “What if Jesus would bring her up to Heaven to stay with him and He would make Carmen feel all better?” she replied, “Well, would she come back here?” I said, “No honey, if Jesus brings her to Heaven, she wouldn't come back here. She would stay there and run and play with all the other girls and boys in Heaven. She would have so much fun and before she knows it, her mommy and daddy would be there with her.”
Meagan then told me that she didn't want to go to Heaven, she wanted to live down here forever. I tried my best to explain to my five year old girl that down here we have a lot of pain. When we fall down, we get hurt. Sometimes our bodies don't work the way they are supposed to and it hurts a lot. And I told her that in Heaven we get brand new bodies that never break. I explained that nobody stays down here forever, but we all have the option to go to Heaven one day and when we get there, we will all be together forever!
Meagan asked… “When I get there, can I ask Jesus how he made the Sun, the Moon, and Snow?” I told Meagan that in Heaven, one day, she and Jesus could go to lunch together and I'm certain that Jesus will tell her all about it.
So I said… “Meagan, I think Carmen has been feeling really bad lately and that she has been hurting a whole lot.” Meagan agreed with me and she reminded me of the machine that she had to carry on her shoulder so that she could get her medicine all day long to feel better. She told me how she “always drops it a few times” and how it beeps until her teacher makes it stop. I told Meagan…”I believe Jesus wants to help Carmen feel all better and that he wants to bring her up to Heaven to take very special care of Carmen.” She didn't really respond too much to that, although I could tell that she took it in and was processing it.
Meagan decided to change the subject. She asked me… “When I go to Heaven can I take my flashlight with me?” I told her that she wouldn't need the flashlight in Heaven because there are so many really awesome things in Heaven to play with that she wouldn't want a silly old flashlight. Then she began to tear up and she began to cry saying… “When I go to Heaven, I want to take my pretty pictures from my door with me.” I just took her in my arms. I wrapped my arms around her. I squeezed her tight and told her I loved her over and over again. She said… “I love you too” each time.
When she had stopped crying, we prayed and I put her to bed. I didn't end up telling her that Carmen had already gone home to be with Jesus, but I believe that when we do tell her, she will take it better than I had expected she would a week ago.
This whole experience and having that conversation with Meagan reminded me just how much I stray away from my own eternal perspective in life. I sometimes say to myself, “I want to stay down here forever.” Sometimes I feel so comfortable here that I feel it's the only safe place for me. However, I know in my heart that this world is not safe. Instead it is a very dangerous place. And this world is a place of suffering and pain. Obviously it can be a world of great wonder and joy, but we must not forget that this is not our final destination.
We are all here for a short time. It's as if we are on a business trip for a few weeks in a city far away from home. Rather than buying furniture to fill up our hotel rooms, we should be busy at work to accomplish the task that we had been sent to do so that we can rush home and jump into the arms of our loved ones who are anxiously awaiting our return back home. That's what Heaven is to me.
I didn't know Carmen very well. I've never even met her parents. But I'm confident that Carmen is happy to be home and that before she knows it, mommy and daddy, and her big brother will be back from their business trip too.
In Christ,
Cliff

Previous post:

Next post: