Thursday, August 23, 2007

Rod Dreher on the Death of A Child

Rod Dreher and I would seem not to have a lot in common. He is a conservative Republican. I am a moderately liberal Democrat. He belongs to an Orthodox Church and is a social conservative. I am an Episcopalian and am a social liberal. Nonetheless, Rod Dreher is one of my favorite writers in the religious blogosphere. I highly recommend him, and am not surprised that my friend Keven Ann Willey (formally at the Arizona Republic, now in charge of the editorial pages of the Dallas Morning News) recruited Rod to move to Dallas.

Regardless of where you are on religious and political issues, read him every day.

Today's post on a death of a child is a gem. Read the whole thing, but here are some highlights:

This afternoon, the children of the Lakewood Presbyterian School, a great little neighborhood school where my son Matthew used to attend, will meet to mark the passing last week of their classmate Jack Foley. Jack was 11 years old. He died last weekend of complications from an epileptic seizure. Two years ago, just as the fall school term was to start, Jack's mother died of breast cancer. So much pain inflicted on such decent people.

. . .

The only other time I dealt with death as a child was when my Little League baseball teammate Roy Dale Craven was killed by a car. I don't remember that much either, except a feeling of complete bafflement that a friend could be there one day, and gone the next. It was like putting my face against a stone wall that shouldn't be there, but was; as I remember, I was more puzzled by Roy Dale's death than anything else. I had no context for it. I remember the funeral home -- Rabenhorst, a name that made me think of a dark castle -- and the graveside burial, but that's it. When I visited Roy Dale's grave for the first time in nearly three decades a while back, a lot of it came back to me. I wrote a piece about that, and one of the coaches I interviewed said:

The star pitcher for the John Fudge Auto Parts Angels was buried with his glove in his hand and his uniform on his back. This may have been the nicest set of clothes the child owned. That funeral was the first time most of us kids had seen death so close. At some point, someone on the team stepped into the aisle and went forward to pay respects to our fallen pitcher, lying in his open casket. Then we all followed, a dozen or so six-to-nine-year-old boys, telling Roy Dale goodbye. "When that happened, there wasn't a dry eye in the place," Mr. Pat says.

That night, I remember hearing my dad and Mr. Pat out on the back porch, talking. I stood by the screen door to listen, and realized these grown men were weeping in the dark. Startled and embarrassed, I went away. Yesterday was the first time in the 28 years since Roy Dale's death that my father has been able to talk to me about the events of that summer without breaking into tears.

Remember Jack Foley in your prayers today, will you? And also his three siblings, and his dad, whose heavy burden just got a lot heavier.

Read it all here.

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