The Reluctant Goodbye

Dominica Sunset Copyright 2008 by Blair Atherton

Dominica Sunset
Copyright 2008 by Blair Atherton

There he lay on his death bed. He had a wonderful life of failure and triumph, sorrow and joy, as well as disappointment and blessings. As he reflected on his life, he began to have feelings of profound loss. Not because of regret or for the things that might have been, but because of having to leave behind those he loves.

He had said his difficult goodbyes to other members of the family. Only the youngest two members remained to be seen for the last time.

Saving them for last seemed apt: as one road comes to an end, another begins. It provided a reminder of just how far he had come from the innocence of childhood to the spiritual trials of adulthood, and finally to the enlightened end of a long life well lived.

As these thoughts washed through his mind, his two youngest grandchildren came into the room to visit. They were quite young—barely in grade school. They were too young to have a grasp of what it means to die. He struggled with how to tell them he was going to have to leave them.

“Come here you two. Get in the bed with me,” he said. “I was hoping you would come to see me today.”

The two of them, a boy and a girl, climbed up into the bed—one on each side—-and laid their heads on his chest. As they did this, a powerful wave of love welled up inside him and he had to force back the tears that strained to explode forth under the force of his emotions. He did not want to ruin these last moments with these two that he loved so much.

For a few minutes he could not speak. Then he said, “There is something I want the two of you to know. I love you both more than anything, but I must go away and I will not see you again for a long time. I don’t want to leave you, but sometimes we must do things that we would rather not do. I want you to know that when I am gone I continue to love you, just like you keep loving me when we are apart, right?”

In unison they said, “Yes grandpa.”

“Always remember the fun we had and how much I love you. While we are apart, you will be wrapped in a blanket of my love that will keep you warm and safe always. Does that sound good?”

“Yes grandpa,” they replied.

“But when will we see you again?” asked the little girl.

“I don’t know when you will see me, but I will always be with you because of the love that we have for each other.”

The little boy said, “I love you grandpa. I’m going to miss you.”

“Me too,” said the little girl.

“I can’t begin to tell you how much I am going to miss you guys. I will be watching over you from afar and I will always be with you in your hearts and minds, and you in mine.”

When the children left and the door closed behind them, he closed his eyes and drifted away. He left behind tears running down his check for the sorrow his departure will cause, and a bit of a smile on his face for finally getting it right.

Author’s note

This is a fictional dialogue. Although the story focuses on the little children,  the sentiment expressed in the dialogue is meant to span all age groups.


Let Us Not Forget the Little Children

Copyright 2012 by Blair Atherton

Copyright 2012 by Blair Atherton

Children today are raised in a society that values wealth, prestige, personal appearance, and professional accomplishments. Therefore, these are the things for which our children strive. Too often these materialistic aspirations are not sufficiently complemented with spiritual values.

This is a challenge for those families that do not participate in organized religion. It takes an enormous effort and resolve on the parent’s part to introduce children to a higher being and spiritual concepts on their own at home. Consequently, spiritual matters are sometimes overlooked entirely in a child’s upbringing.

If this happens, it is regrettable because it can cast the child adrift in the sea of materialism without a compass. They may soon be lost to the dark forces that lay in waiting. They can’t help but think that the material world is all that there is. Perhaps this has contributed to some extent to the state of society today.

Maybe it is a matter of breaking things down to their most basic level. What are the central attributes of spirituality that provide us with a code by which to live? What are the guiding principles we can use to shape our behavior and become spiritual citizens of the world community?

Most important for nurturing spirituality in our children is the role model we provide. Children learn a great deal by example. The pre-teen years are perhaps the most critical for instilling the concept of a Creator and spiritual principles and values in children. We must be constantly aware of our own behavior around children and how we demonstrate spiritual values and their application in our everyday lives.

Let us not forget the little children for they will shape the society of tomorrow. Let us not forget the little children for they can help us to become better human beings.

Author’s note

I would very much like to hear from readers about how they have instilled spirituality in their young children outside of religious practice.