I read a book some time back about a young girl who died before her ninth birthday from a lung disease called cystic fibrosis. It was one of the most touching books I have ever read. I would like to share a few of the thoughts of this young girl as she dealt with the knowledge that her life was slowly fading away. The book was especially meaningful to me as I remembered my loss, and I believe it will have a special message for others who have walked this same walk. Listen carefully to the words of this young one as she faces the unknown.
She was in her last days and every breath she took was as if it would be her last. The pain was so severe she could hardly endure it, but her mind was clear as she wondered about the hereafter. The minister had stopped by to pay his respects when he got this unexpected question from one so young: “Do you have to die to see God?” she asked.
Although he probably wasn’t ready for such a question, the wise old man replied, “No, you don’t have to die to see God, because He is all around us. He created the world—the birds, the animals, the trees, and the flowers. Everything.” It was a good answer, for if He is all around us, what is there to fear?
“And what about wings? Will I have wings?” she inquired of her mother. “Well, all angels have wings,” her mother replied. “I mean, will I get mine right away?” she asked. “The first day,” her mother answered. “And then you can always be our guardian angel and watch over us.” A guardian angel watching over me. I had never thought of it in that way. Maybe I do have a guardian angel watching over me. What about you?
“Daddy, do you think I can get back to school before Christmas?” she asked one day, as she struggled to draw that next breath. “If your lungs keep getting better, sure, you can.” He answered. “I’m going to keep on hoping. I am. You have to have hope, don’t you? Is hoping exactly like wishing?” her young mind wondered. And then she answered her own question, “I think hoping is more like, you know, you really can expect it. I think wishing is more like dreams.” And then she went on, “But neither one of them is like praying. No, hoping and wishing are okay, because they don’t involve God and Jesus the way praying does.” That was the word she used: “involve.”
A friend asked the young girl what she thought dying meant. The answer said it all. “Well, it means a soul floating away to Heaven. And a soul is all the beautiful things about a person. And the soul becomes part of everyone who ever knew that person, so they can’t ever be away and miss each other too terribly.”
Sometimes as we adults wonder about the mysteries of life, maybe we should just have the faith of a little child. A child whose faith is unfaltering and who knows that God is all around us. A child who believes in guardian angels, and one who believes you can go away but yet, never leave.
The Bible speaks of another father who has a dying young girl, and in his anguish, he cries out, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.” May our prayer be, during times like these, to simply have the faith of a little child.
George Lusby is the former Scott County judge-executive. “The Best of Crawfish and Minnows,” is available at the News-Graphic office.