by Karen Treat

The king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept; and as he went, he said, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!”  2 Samuel 18:33

I have to wonder why David was so sad about Absalom’s death.  It wasn’t like Absalom was a nice son.  He didn’t exactly try to make his father happy or support the work that David had to do.  In fact, He wanted David’s life, including his wives.  Absalom wanted the throne.  Absalom wanted his father David dead.  So why be so devastated with this loss?  It seemed to be more gift than anything.

Mary is a mother of 8 children.  Her husband was a career military man who served in both the Korean and Viet Nam wars.  With her husband often away in service, Mary did her best to raise her children in love.

Then one day, Mary and her husband find they have lost their beloved 4th child, Annie in a sledding accident.  The death of a 19 year old peppy, faith filled child during a church outing on a mountain adventure, sends the family to a place they never could imagine.

Mary’s question was like David, “why my Annie and why not me?”

It takes only a few months before this family is in complete disarray.  Grieving.  Each Wondering.  Each Wandering.   Annie’s siblings find drugs and alcohol to numb their loss.  Her parents find uncertainty in their own relationship.

Balance comes back slowly.  One by one, the now young adult children find their way to 12 step recovery.  They find new life in a God that offers grace and love.  All but one.  Rick.

Mary hopes for Rick.  Over and over again she is answering the call to help him out of jail.  Jailed for theft and selling drugs.  Mary rescues Rick over and over again until she can’t anymore. Mary makes her way to the 12 step program Al-anon and learns new boundaries of love. Mary stops answering the phone and trying to rescue Rick.

Mary cries at night and pleads to God to help bring peace in this loss of a living son.  A son in the throes of addiction and not able to find a way out.  Mary grieves again for another child lost.  A different kind of death.  The grief is tremendous.

Knowing Mary’s love for her children, I guess I can understand David’s sadness.  He loved his son, Absalom.  Unconditionally.

David’s grief reveals that this is what we do because of love.  Love that forgives and remembers the gift a child can be or could have been.  Because they are ours.

And, we are God’s children.  That is how God loves us and grieves with us.  Unconditionally.  A God who wants for all to be grounded in love.  We live in a world that more often brings us pain, but it is in our understanding that God is with us, moving in and around us that we are able to go forward.  With awareness of God’s loving and unending presence we have hope and forever the possibility of joy.

Blessings as you see glimpses of God in your day.