In a small community like ours, any tragedy hits hard. When the victim is a child, my first question is why? Why, when our community…when our children… are praying for a miracle, why would the miracle not come? It is a heart wrenching question that grips my heart like a vice. It hurts. This pain of watching a vibrant young boy like Greg Hammond slip away after a freak accident seems surreal and unnatural. Children are not supposed to die. It goes against everything I feel is right and true. It causes questions from students I would rather not answer…because there is no answer.
It is difficult to process the outpouring of the grief of children. A sister runs to hug her younger brother, just to say she loves him because now she knows life is not predictable. Mothers check children out of school to attempt the impossible task of explaining how this could happen. Community members call for continued prayer for the family in their loss. All ages are affected. We weep with those who weep.
You will not hear clichés from me. Even if they are true, pouring salt in an open wound is not my style. All I know to do is grieve the loss. To say, I’m sorry. To say, I know you hurt…is enough. No explanations needed. The time for answers is not now. Now is the time for expressions of love without words. Tears. Hugs. Smiles. The loss of one so dear, so alive in his pursuit of life causes a hole in my heart. A place that feels empty and sad all at the same time. In response, I give you a picture, a promise and a prayer.
The picture is one of a 12-year-old boy. He loves to race. He loves to ride. He loves to fly through the air on a motorcycle. He is a friend to many. He is loved by most. He has a smile no one will forget.
The promises are “I will never leave you or forsake you. I draw near to the broken hearted. I grieve with those who grieve. I am a man acquainted with sorrow and suffering. I walk with you through the valley of the shadow of death. I comfort those who mourn. Tears may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning. I give peace that passes understanding. I am with you even to the end of the Earth.”
The prayer is Father God, I ask that you comfort the Hammond family in this time of grief. Surround them with your love and grace. Help us in the community to be your hands and feet, to support and hold them up when they cannot do so for themselves. Hold them close to your heart, so they can hear it beating for them. Take them into your sweet presence and pour out your peace. Lord, give them rest in the midst of the tension of the next few days. Give them hope in the midst of the grief of the next few months. Give them life in the midst of hardship in the next few years. I pray for your glory to shine out from within them, even as they adapt to this new life without Greg. Comfort their hearts. Clear their minds. Hold tight their spirits. I know you hold their tears at your throne. I ask you would fill their empty arms with love for one another. Embrace them Lord, so they know your love for them. Cover them with your presence. Amen.