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Held by a God who hurts too

By Bruce Mcleod

Our grandson Patrick died on Friday night. He was tobogganing with friends near home a couple of hours north of Toronto, and hit a tree, which broke his heart.

Pat was 17, a bright and smiling boy with untapped abilities edging out like spring leaves, a clear and honest spirit, and a quiet gift for making people of every age around him feel listened to. Like many of the world's best people, he was a young man all his life. His face won't wrinkle, nor his hair fall out. Arthritis won't bend his back, nor will his mouth turn down from years of sliding accommodation to the way things are. For those who love him, he'll always be the promise green of what isn't quite, but might yet be.

The world will never be the same for Joyce and me, the grandparents, and certainly for his parents, Denise and Gary, and for Greg his older brother with whom he is closer than breathing.

Denise phoned to say an ambulance was rushing to Toronto's St. Michael's Emergency. We waited for them there, held them when they came, and felt held by thoughtful nurses, a caring chaplain, and a trauma team doctor who popped her head around a door, said everything was ready, and they would do their best.

As it turned out, Pat didn't make it much past Newmarket Hospital where we finally left him in the middle of the night.

"What then do we say to these things?" asked Paul those years ago. Well, we don't say much. We're not big enough to find the words. Brief visitors, all of us, to this whirling planet, one or another of us always, and all of us sometimes find ourselves, "as on a darkling plain," bewildered by tsunamis, falling aircraft, sudden breast cancer, and toboggans, lethal in the night. And short of explanations.

So in the parking lot we wrapped our arms around each other, and held on, our thoughts flying in all directions like frightened birds....


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