Dear Ms. Elementary School Counselor,
Chances are fair that I really don’t need to do this, not with the great number of other tasks that need to be crossed off what I’m sure is a long list. Still, a part of me expects your call at any moment.
I imagine your voice would be kind but grave, telling me in the most professional way possible that my son is afflicted with suicidal thoughts. You will probably suggest several courses of action, all of which should be immediate and most of which will involve varying arrays of medications and counseling. If that call should indeed come, I intend to put you at ease and email you this short note as an explanation, hoping you are of a mind to understand. Because, yes, my son did announce to the half-dozen or so of his classmates at the lunch table that he couldn’t wait to die, but that’s not what he meant. At least, not really.
Like most things, context is what’s important. That’s what I’ll give you. And if by some chance you haven’t received the full account of what my son and his friends were discussing, he said they were all ruminating on death. I’m not so intelligent, nor am I a licensed school counselor, but I would imagine such a topic wouldn’t raise too many red flags. It’s been my experience that children do not shrink from the thought of dying, that they see it as something what will always come sooner rather than later. It’s only when we grow up that death becomes a menace, something that should be ignored lest it be considered.
I say all that so I can say this—my son was merely stating a fact. He has told me often that he cannot wait to die, and I must confess the idea is not wholly his own. I was the one responsible for planting that thought in his head. I can’t wait to die, either. Nor my wife, nor my daughter. Nor, in fact, most of our friends and acquaintances. Before you panic and think you’ve just stumbled upon some hillbilly suicide pact, let me assure you that’s not the case. We—my son and his family—simply believe there isn’t death at all. There’s only life followed by more life.
I realize this may come as no surprise to you, and that you in fact may share this conviction. In a town in which there are nearly four times as many churches as stop lights, the odds are good that’s the case. And yet I am realistic enough to know the changing times—even here, many of the pews in many of those churches are emptying, life has grown too busy for the Sabbath, etc. If that’s true in your case, I’ll do my best to explain in greater detail.
You see, we believe there is more. More to life, more to the universe, more to everything. That all we know is but a sliver of what is actually true and real, and that hidden behind all we can perceive is a single thread that traces its beginning to a God beyond all understanding. That holy, loving God imbued us with more than a mind to ponder and a heart to feel. He gave us a soul as well, and he placed inside us all a spark of eternity that not even death can destroy.
I know—that might not make much sense. It sounds a bit irrational. Even childish. That’s fine. Much of what we believe seems as such to those who don’t. We’re used to being misunderstood and even mocked, but this is who we are, and this is what we will forever be.
I’ll only say this: yes, we are looking forward to that greater life beyond. We see that world as much brighter and more real than this tired and frail one we live in now. But that’s not to say we are eager to leave. We have much to do here, much more to grow. We have a purpose and meaning. So I ask that you not worry about my son. He’s in good hands. Worry instead for those who believe this life is the end, and only darkness waits hereafter.
With kind regards,