This week marks the fifth year since my first-born child, Nate, died at age 27.
He was a man of many talents, much humor and more than enough experiences with opiates.
His early life was sweet; his teenage years were sour and his adult years were measured in ways that made him older than he really was when he passed.
Deep in his sleep, deeper yet in the arms of the Father he both embraced and at times shirked, Nate died as he rested.
He didn't suffer during those moments; though we suffered greatly within hours - and then the suffering moved to months and years.
And our suffering turned, in time, to deep personal loss - the absence of what could have been.
What I'm learning to do is to give grace to the memory of the days before Nate died. Though I was his father and Susan, his mother, we didn't know all that his life involved prior to his death. Nor will we ever. His life was his life, cloaked in the needed personal space that he requested.
He lived in Missouri, we lived in Idaho - separated by more than geography.
Yet, Bonhoeffer's quote is a teaching moment for what was a part of our son's life then and what is a part of other people's lives now.
Through these five years of suffering, I'm learning to look at people differently. To see things through their eyes... and more importantly, through their tears.
As this fifth year finishes on Tuesday, March 11th, I receive from my oldest son more personal blessings via his death than I believe I ever gave to him in life; I may exaggerate somewhat, but I am seeing things in a way I never did before.
My expectation is that I will not re-address his death in this blog for a few more years. I've written enough.
I'm honored to help people about their suffering(s) and the losses in their lives, having seen the validity of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's clear understanding of suffering.