Sunday, 22 December 2013

Tiny Light Logan

Yesterday (December 21st) at 2:15pm Logan died peacefully at Roger's House, a children's palliative care centre in Ottawa. Logan, the little brother of my great-nephew Josh, son of Jeff and Raelene, was three and a teeny bit. He had a devastating type of leukemia, and fought the good fight for about 8 months. Chemo and chemo and more chemo. Nothing was able to halt the disease.

Logan was cute. And loved. Had a radiant impish smile. He also looked like his big brother Josh. He left behind people with broken hearts.

Ottawa has a project - "the tiny light foundation" - that organizes for local professional photographers to do shoots with families of children with life-threatening illnesses. Below are three photos taken by photographer Julie Hearty of Ottawa. If you want to see more, go to Julie Hearty's facebook page, click like, and scroll down to Tiny Light Logan.

l-r My favourite oldest great-nephew Josh, Jeff holding Logan, Raelene

Beautiful boy

Always together
WHY? We ask ourselves the big questions - why do little children suffer and die? There are no answers. At least I don't have one - and I think anyone who says they do, lies.

At funerals, I always say we are there to do several things that seem at odds with each other. We give thanks for a life and for the ways in which the person touched our lives - for memories and the opportunity to love and be loved by this person. We grieve the death of this person we loved. And we give this person back to God from whom he or she came, and to whom he or she returns - God in whom we live and move and have our being.

I say none of this lightly. Grief is so very human and REAL. The death of a child is incomprehensible. It doesn't make sense. It is out of the order of things. Logan's family grieves not only his death - but the death of their dreams and hopes for him - the loss of watching him grow and grow up... and so much more...

No platitudes. No lies. No "Time will heal your grief." No - no - no ... no easy answers to make ourselves feel less hopeless and helpless. NO.

Simply - Josh, Jeff, and Raelene - you are surrounded with love, with people who will walk beside you, behind you, and before you, who will sometimes carry you, and who will share your tears. 

When I did my chaplaincy training in Burlington, VT almost 25 years ago, I worked in pediatrics, and did my Master's in Pastoral Studies while ministering to, journeying with, and learning from children with cancer and their families. I found a book called "Why, God?" by Burton Z. Cooper. Cooper was (is?) a lay Presbyterian theologian two of whose children died. He's searching for an answer and he traces the problem of suffering through the Bible, especially the suffering of the innocent.

In the end, his answer is - there is no answer to suffering, except - US.

"We are a living body of caring ... we are the answer to those questions of suffering and evil that rise out of our lives and onto our lips. We are a LIVING ANSWER (caps mine), not a dogmatic one. Our primary response to evil is not one of explanation but of witness... in the life of a community of sisters and brothers in Christ (and in other faiths, I add) there is a way - a way of worship, a way of listening, a way of seeing, a way of acting - which can counter the power of evil in all our lives, and set us on our feet again ... " (Page 124)

Our call - according to Cooper:    God's presence through us - our listening, being, waiting with, our presence with compassion and suffering companionship.

When our Lorne (Jim's and my brother) drowned in 1950, someone said to Mum shortly afterwards, "Laugh and the world laughs with you; cry and you cry alone." Others crossed the street to avoid her grief and their own helplessness.    NOT the way. Understatement.

We ARE helpless. We don't have answers. It's ok to tell the truth and admit we don't have answers. No one wants glib try-to-make-them-feel-better answers. We have the gift of presence, compassion, and understanding. That is all anyone can give. And that is what Jeff, Raelene, and Josh need in their deepest grief.

I never met you in person, Logan, but I've watched you grow through Josh's photos and stories. You touched my heart. 

Soar with the angels, Logan - or do whatever the littlest ones do on the other side of death in the new life you're discovering. Slide on rainbows. Dance in the woods. Make snow angels (I hope there's snow in heaven). Greet relatives you've never met who died before you. Love and know how loved you will always be.

You were and are a treasure. God's treasure and our treasure. Know that everyone who ever met you, or knew you through others and their love for you, will always remember you - your smile and courage and sweetness and little boy playfulness.... all that you were and are and are becoming.


  1. Thank you for your words and prays Jeff M

    1. Jeff - heart hugs to you all

    2. I know Logan only via you Ros and I really feel for his parents. Christmas will not only be a sad time for them but will also (I believe) a celebration and thanksgiving for his life. The best words are those unsaid in this sad time but a hug conveys all the meanings. I send a huge hug to his family and pray for them.