In November of this year, Daniel will have been gone from Earth, for four years. In a sense, I will have a Bachelor's degree in Bereavement, if such a thing is possible. In four years on this blog, I have not yet discussed why, when my faith in God was challenged beyond any other experience I had before, that my faith not only remained, but was somehow strengthened. This would seem to me to be one of the great miracles and most important points of having lost Daniel, and yet, somehow, I had not yet been able to take apart the experience, and offer why things may have unfolded as they did.
I learned about Jesus Christ when I was six years old, when I chose to attend a nearby rural church. Oddly, this was not news to me. Somehow, the world had always seemed orderly, and when it didn't seem fair, I believed that there would be some equalization following our lives. I believed this absolutely. My parents were of the era in which one's children should be able to choose one's faith, and so they did not attempt to sway me. The local church gave God a name, and they called him Jesus Christ. I felt close to God and prayed often, all through my childhood, although I felt his presence more strongly in a forest, or at a stream, than I ever did in a church in that time. I also had some other experiences I was unable to make sense of, as a child. Once when I was a child, a number of children came to me to talk to me in my bedroom at night. The next morning, I told my parents about it, and they attributed it to my perhaps having had a fever. I remember that interaction, however, as clearly as if it were last week. I also occasionally knew things. I knew when a student in my class would be moving before they told us. I knew when our teachers were ill. I concluded in my child mind, that we all notice things, and that God gives us the ability to conclude more than is obvious, not only as a way of making life easier for ourselves, but in order to help to make life easier for others. As a teen, I remember questioning some of the beliefs many Christian churches had. I still believed in the worship of God, but I felt that many of the Christian faiths had woven misunderstandings into their beliefs. I thought that some of them tended to worship graven images rather than Christ. I thought that some of the faiths focused on fundraising rather than on people, and that some of them were judgmental and needed to embrace some of the very people they shunned. I still held God close to me in those years, by churches fell away to some degree as I attended college.
As a new nurse, I came closer to seeing detail in how unfair life here on Earth can be sometimes. Sometimes a new mother of twins dies of breast cancer. Sometimes a young and an evolved and loving person we all need on Earth passes of kidney disease. Sometimes, one of the nicest physicians, a wonderful teacher also, passes from the Earth quickly, and no medical reason can be found, even on autopsy. Sometimes, it seemed to me that God must be too busy to hear my prayers on behalf of others. It was hard for me to understand why sometimes patients suffered, and then did not survive their serious illnesses. I might have begun to lose my faith then, but there were also miracles. There were times when someone who should have died, recovered and was ultimately cured of something that should not have been possible. There were times when someone was resuscitated, and then would tell of Heaven and what they did there. Sometimes, they could tell us what we were doing and what their families were doing, while they were in fact, dead ! There was enough of a balance between losses and miracles, that I held onto my faith.
When each of our children were born, they were wonderful gifts from God, and I wanted them to know what I had learned about life and about God thus far, and so, I told them what I knew as they grew. I had always taught them to heed their intuitive feelings about things they would encounter here. If they feared a particular teacher or person, then rather than talking themselves out of that feeling, they were to trust what they were feeling. I first explained this to them in terms of calling this "pattern recognition". We may not know what we are noticing, but we are noticing something, and we must trust this. I also later told them that God builds this sense into each of us, to ensure our survival, and not to be afraid of intuitive information, because it may come from God.
Before Daniel's sudden departure, I did not know that something was wrong, or that he would be departing from Earth. However, I did know that a new chapter in my life was coming, and that I was somehow closing a chapter in my life and beginning another. I also felt very close to Daniel before he departed. I fortunately, had two weeks off before he passed, and we spent a great deal of that time together. We caught up on homeschooling, went shopping and bought some of the things he needed. We also bought his beloved rooster, just two days before Daniel's sudden and unexpected passing. I had the chance, and I still don't know why I did this, to tell him that I was so proud of him, and that I was proud of having parented such a bright and a wonderful human being. I love all my children, but Daniel had been born during a period of time in which we could afford me to remain at home and raise him during his babyhood. I had only returned to work in the last year of Daniel's life. Even though God called Daniel home, he did so in the gentlest way possible. He gave us two wonderful weeks together. He gave me the chance and somehow the motivation to tell Daniel what he really meant to me. God also gave me and everyone in the family, the chance to help Daniel, that fateful day when he experienced a sudden cardiac arrest in the bathroom just before going Christmas shopping. Had I not done CPR on Daniel myself that day, I would always have believed that I could have saved him. Through having done CPR myself, I know that I could not. Daniel passed somehow from the moment he hit the floor. No amount of CPR, no epinephrine injection, the AED used by the sheriff's office, and the Advanced Cardiac Life Support employed by the helicopter ICU made no difference that day. Daniel was simply gone from his body, and we were left with the inexplicable shock and resounding grief of what had happened. I cannot tell you exactly why my faith not only exists but is strengthened. Perhaps it is that God called Daniel in the gentlest way possible that day. Perhaps it is that he let us have two weeks together that were quite joyous in retrospect. Perhaps it is everything that everyone said to us at the "Celebration of Daniel's Life". I know only a few things about it. I know that God sent Daniel to us, to love and to teach. I know that Daniel belongs to God, and that he certainly can call him back. I know that the dreams I have had from Daniel and from my Dad have provided me with information which later was verified to be true. I believe that God allowed messages to be sent to me, in order to keep my perspective a positive one, and to keep my faith strong. I somehow know that I have tasks to complete before I too am called Home. Yes, I still have my faith in Jesus Christ and in the world beyond this one, and in that sense, I still also have Daniel.
Christine and Scott Dente are some of the most musical homeschooling parents you will find anywhere.
In all seriousness, Daniel would not like that we are discussing somber subjects while he is safely at home in Heaven. If he could, I am sure he would send you this brief video his sister found today.