The tears came yesterday.
Yesterday was his birthday, you see. Her brother's. The one she hasn't seen in close to three years, except for the pictures that hang on our walls and the memories she keeps in her heart. It was his birthday, and when she realized it, the grief that she has carried for three years rose to the surface, and the tears came.
I held her in my arms as the tears fell and she talked about how much she misses him. This little girl, who has filled me with endless joy and wonder, cried and said that she wishes she had his phone number or that he had hers so they could at least talk to one another. This little girl, whose smiles have brightened the worst days of my life, cried and said that she wants her brother to come home.
What can be said in the face of such grief when it comes from the heart of a child?
Should I tell her what she already knows, that her brother came to live with us only for a while, and then the state returned him to his birth parents, because that was always the goal? No, she already knows this, and mere recitation of facts does nothing to heal the wounded heart.
Should I tell her that God has a plan, and that the lonely ache she feels is for a high and holy purpose, if only she will have faith? No. She has had enough of despair, and it is too cruel to deny her the right to express her grief.
Should I tell her that I know how she feels, and say that I've ached for three years to hold her brother in my arms again and hear him call me daddy? No. As for the first, it is a lie -- what man can ever claim to know the razor's edge of his child's pain? -- and as to the second, it would force her to bear my grief when she has enough of her own.
Should I regale her with theology, assuring her that the Savior she believes in and loves with the fervor only a child can muster, has borne the greater portion of her pain, and that he saves every tear that she sheds? Do I tell her that in her broken heart, in her unselfish devotion to her brother, in the love she lavished upon him and still gives him, that she understands the heart of God more than I ever could?
There is nothing I can say. There is nothing that can make sense of the pain that one little girl feels on a night like this, when the cold and indifferent world has locked her outside, smeared her face with all the filth that it gives to anyone who dares to love another, and left her there to cry out to dear Jesus for relief.
There is nothing to do, except to hold her tightly, and let her feel the bond of love that joins us to one another. The brother she misses never knew love until he came into our home and she poured all that she had into him. A piece of him is buried deep inside her, and there can be no doubt that the reverse is also true.
The silver cord, once forged in the fires of love, can never be broken. In time, what has been stretched across the miles and the years will pull back until its two ends meet again.
And when they do, the tears will come again, but this time they will bring relief.Copyright © 2006 by David Learn. Used with permission.