Within an hour of posting my earlier blog on Team Bryan, I received the phone call that I knew was inevitable but still came as a complete shock. Bryan passed away peacefully at home on Thursday morning. He was 6 years old.
This morning, Team Bryan walked/ran the 10k race for Camp Oochigeas, a camp for kids with cancer.
The event had special significance since we were doing it in memory of Bryan. Many more members of the team were not pounding the pavement with us. Everyone who prayed, supported, encouraged, cared for, nursed and offered Holy Mass are part of Bryan’s team.
The grieving which started before his death will intensify. The people closest to Bryan, his family and friends, will experience a range of emotions and questions. It’s only human to try to make sense of what happened.
I think it’s in events such as this that faith in God who is all-loving and self-sacrificing gives clarity. How else do we try to understand what happened if not in the light of faith? God commands us to be all-loving and self-sacrificing just as He is. For Catholics who are of a certain age, the old Baltimore Catechism told us life’s meaning: why did God make us? God made us to know Him, love Him, serve Him in this world and be with Him in the next.
Six year old Bryan lived out the Baltimore Catechism well. Even at such a tender age, in his many questions, Bryan was hungry for God and His Truths. He loved God in his family and in his friends. And without understanding his self-sacrifice, he served God and his neighbour in the disease he bore. Just by his presence, Bryan asked us to love and serve each other, and thereby serve God. His brief life was a beautiful witness of God’s love, hope and promise of eternal life.
Just before Christmas, someone who has never met Bryan but had journeyed with him in prayer asked me, on the person’s behalf, to purchase a statue for Bryan’s family. The person was clear in the desire that it be one of Mother Mary holding the Child Jesus. The intention was that this image would console Bryan’s family with the reassurance that he would eternally be held in the loving embrace of our Heavenly Mother.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if that’s the way Bryan entered Heaven? Received into the loving arms of our Blessed Mother and carried joyfully to God with all of Heaven welcoming home the courageous little boy whose suffering the Lord continues to use for so much good.
Dear Bryan, now you know the answers to all those pressing questions you constantly asked. You know the ones I mean: what does Heaven look like; how old was Abraham; why did Sarah laugh; how big was Goliath; how big was David’s stone; why was it cold in the manger; what did Moses’ beard look like; and why is broccoli green.
And Bryan, what does God’s laugh sound like?