I didn’t have a plan for how we would tell Ezra about Sam. Sam came before Ezra. Ezra never met Sam. I didn’t feel like we needed to bring it up, necessarily. I wondered if it would come up when Ezra was older, maybe in the natural course of getting to know his parents better. Then during our last move, a photo of Mommy and Daddy holding Sam came out of a box, at the hands of a very curious redhead.
“Who is this baby?” he asked.
Ezra was delighted to learn that he had another brother, and he’s been asking questions ever since. He often asks about heaven, almost like it’s another town, maybe a few miles away. He imagines Sam plays with our dog, Banner, who died last year. Conversations with Ezra about Sam are always adorable.
We went to Sam’s grave a few months ago, and Ezra was leaping all over the place. Not typical graveside behavior, but very much how a boy behaves when he is 1) on a ranch and 2) with his brother. So it felt joyfully appropriate to me. “He’s not here, but his body is here,” we had told him beforehand. That was an acceptable explanation to him. We went on a nature walk.
“I like going to Sam’s grathe,” he said later. Grathe. He also says “brathe” instead of “brave.” Anyone else think your kid’s mispronunciations are wonderful?
So today after I picked Ezra up from Sunday School, he told me that they had learned about Sam. “My big brother is so big! He has loooong hair! And they chopped it off, and he knocked down the towers. Sam was so strong. My big brother was strong.”
“Oh you learned about Samson!”
“Yeah. Samson. My brother.”
I explained that two different people can have the same name, that Samson is not the same person as our Sam. He seemed a little disappointed, which was understandable–the idea of having a big brother who could knock down towers was pretty exciting.
Ezra is always piecing things together, whether information about Sam or any other life thing he’s exploring. So many things are encountered for the first time. After all, he’s only been here four years. His perspective is unhindered, perfectly fresh. It’s adorable to me, as his mother. Just adorable.
I think there’s so much about grief that leaves me with unanswered questions. I tend to bury my queries when they are beyond understanding, especially when I’m met with more questions than answers. For a child, the whole world is mysterious, a giant unanswered question, and so they approach life with more acceptance, willing to turn life’s mysteries over and over in their hand like a found treasure. Children approach their detective work with a humble audacity–a willingness to accept that so much is yet unknown to them, yet boldly unwilling to stop wondering about it.
Jesus calls us to be like them.
Fellow sojourner, may you resist the temptation to bury your queries of God, and may you walk in the God-given faith of a child. May you be given comfort and even joy as you turn over and over the treasure in your hand, the unanswered questions in your sorrow, the cross you were called to bear. Pray the same for me.