...but not on purpose.
Would've declined if given the chance.
The news arrived late at night via telephone.
There's something ominous about a ringing phone then.
When it shattered what had been our peaceful night, I noted the time and felt a familiar sense of dread sweep over me.
We're trapped within it, powerless to alter its unceasing forward march.
An inexorable current, it sweeps us ever onward from second to minute to hour.
Days, weeks, months, years, decades race by until finally we arrive at the terminus and our inevitable end.
Since we're rebels at heart we war against it, a fruitless yet determined resistance.
Why, we wonder, can't we just stay here?
If I could, I'd draw a line in the sand, an uncrossable demarcation between "how it used to be" and "how it is now".
I'm not positive of the exact date.
A week, or possibly a month ago?
Before the evil slithered back in and encircled him for the final time.
Then that would be it:
My personal Ground Hog Day, or Ground Hog Life, perhaps.
I'd spend my days happily wandering around the good times we experienced, reliving those special moments with people I love...
...and as long as we didn't cross into no man's land, into the dreadful here and now, everything would be just fine.
Of course that's nothing but a pointless pipe dream and that damn phone is still ringing, and so finally I answer it.
In response, a tragedy in three words:
"Ryan is dead."
With that synoptic reply I became an unwilling part of the group no one wants to join:
Parents who bury a child.
I wish this was not so.
I wish my son was still here.
I wish I could hear his voice, hug him as he walks through my door at Thanksgiving, meet him for breakfast at Denny's, hear about how work is going for him, listen to his plans for the future.
But that's just me feeling sorry for myself.
He's better off now, and though it sounds trite to modern ears, he's in a better place.
I was with him when he was 8 years old, when he bowed his head and asked Jesus to be his Savior.
In Luke 18 the Lord told his disciples, "Suffer little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God.
"Verily I say unto you, Whosever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein."
With child like faith Ryan put his trust in the Lord and so as Jesus promised, became a citizen of God's kingdom.
That was 32 years ago.
Today he's in heaven with the Lord.
His pain and struggles, temptations and trials have ended.
He has released the burdens of this life and embraced the glories of heaven.
So I'm peaceful in my spirit because I know he's well, and now have something to await with happy anticipation:
That moment, yet future, when we'll embrace on heaven's gentle shore, when I'll feel the solid press of his muscles against my own, and tell him to his face I love him.
"And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand."
- John 10:28
I'm weeping as I write this, but I won't then; not when we're together again.
I love you, Ryan.
Looking forward to our reunion.