Last night I stood at the bedside of a little first-grade boy whose mother knelt down beside him with his hand in hers. His pale face was peaceful, and only the absence of red on his lips hinted that it had been over an hour since he’d passed away. He was beautiful, and I cannot tell you why… except maybe it was that his long battle with sickness was over now.
His brother, a year older, did not want to come with us to his bedside while we prayed. Instead, he kept vigil over a computer game in the living room. He had been holding himself together for long enough, the eternal cheerful presence in his brother’s hospital room.
My husband crouched down on the floor next to him while he seemed to move in slow motion through his game. “I killed a lot of bad guys on this level,” he said, as my husband asked him about the game. “Are you winning?” my husband asked, and watches the screen in some kind of quiet male empathy.
“I’m gonna miss him,” the brother says, as he wields a frozen weapon. “I’ve never been there when somebody died before. That’s why I’m so emotional.”
But he doesn’t seem emotional now. He seems tired.
“You were a good brother to him,” my husband says quietly.
It seemed incongruous, the comic figures and happy tones of the game. But as I watched this brother’s face I realized he was controlling the one thing in the house he could control. He could not stop the relentless march of his brother’s disease, but he could rise from level to level to be given strength in this predictable virtual world. My eyes moved from him to his Lego figure on the screen. I watched as he jumped from platform to platform to defeat the game’s evil bladed machine.
Deep in him was that strong and beautiful sense of justice that all children have – that bad things should not happen, and that somebody should do something about it.
I prayed that he would remember the words we had just spoken on Sunday. We had painted the jeweled throne of Christ in heaven. He had listened intently then as we spoke about Jesus as the Ruler of all things. Jesus had already dealt a fatal blow to death, and we were meant to live forever.
I looked back at the screen as he encapsulated a bad guy in a solid block of ice. Though the greatest evil, death, had stolen his best friend for now, he had no plans to lay down and take it.
“Where, O Death, is your victory. Where, O Death is your sting?”