This morning, I dragged my wife and son Aidan out with me to visit my daughter’s grave. (I have written about Gracie before, here. Gracie died in Baptismal innocence ten years ago, aged 20 months. She died before her grandparents). Aidan was Gracie’s adoring big brother, and used to play with her and sing to her to make her laugh.
It was a glorious sunny morning, though Spring is running late due to a cold snap. My wife is a non-practising Anglican, and my 16 year old son has stopped coming to Mass. The two other kids are away for Easter: one is at university, and the other on a school trip to Rome (lucky boy!).
As we stood by the graveside, noticing the weeds and brambles that have appeared since our last visit, I asked Aidan if he knew what was special about Easter Sunday. He answered correctly that it is the day when Jesus rose from the dead. I asked him why this was so important, but he didn’t know. Poor Aidan is mentally and physically handicapped, and has trouble understanding a lot of things, so I tried to explain.
Being risen from the dead means that He is now and everywhere, with us and in us, I said, off the cuff. Then pointing to Gracie’s little picture on her gravestone, I said that Gracie is with Jesus now. She too is right here and right now, with us, as are all the Saints.
He looked blank. Like his father and mother, Aidan is a stubborn sort, suspicious and easily bored of authority. It’s best not to speak for too long, or too fancifully to him, lest he turn away.
What I wish I’d said is that in our family’s race to Heaven, she has got there before all the rest of us. Aidan understands races and Heaven.
Anyway, we returned home and had Aidan’s favourite Sunday lunch: a slap-up Mexican feast, with burritos (of course), nachos and fajitas galore. Aidan is fascinated by Mexico, where lives the world’s richest man, he tells me. He is also fascinated by the North Korean Kim dynasty, for some reason, but don’t ask me why.
I pray that Aidan’s innocence protects him from spiritual harm in the meantime, and leaves him free to be picked up like a dry fallen leaf by the mighty wind of the Holy Spirit that will take him Heavenward, when the fullness of time comes.
And I believe Gracie will be interceding for him to that end too, as she will for all of us.