At St. Mary Parish, Greenwich, we celebrate from 47 to 52 funerals a year. Sometimes, we don't have one for two weeks and at other times we may have three within ten days. In the last 10 days, I have celebrated four funerals, the youngest was 25-years-old and the oldest was 88. Naturally, people attending these Masses need to be consoled and given hope. The following is the story -- I'm not sure whether it's true or not, but no matter, the story touches the heart -- of a little boy who died and wrote a letter to his mom and dad.
Sally and Jim jumped up as soon as they saw the surgeon come out of the operating room. They alternated in saying, "How is our boy? Is he going to be okay? When can we see him?" The surgeon said, "I'm sorry, we did all we could." Sally said, "Why do little children get cancer; doesn't God care anymore? God, where were you when my son need you?" The surgeon said, "One of the nurses will be out in a few minutes to let you spend some time with your son's remains before it's transported to the university."
Sally asked the nurse to stay with them while she and Jim said goodbye to their son. Sally ran her fingers through his thick red curly hair. The nurse said, "Would you like a lock of his hair?" Jim said yes as Sally nodded in affirmation. The nurse cut a lock of his hair and put it in a plastic bag and handed it to Sally.
Sally said, "It was little Jimmy's idea to give his body to the university for study. He said it might help somebody else, and that is what he wanted. Jim and I both said no at first, but Jimmy said, `But mom and dad, I won't be needing it when I die, maybe it will help some other little boy to be able to spend one more day with his mother and father.' Our Jimmy had a heart of gold, always thinking of someone else and always wanting to help others if he could."
Sally and Jim walked out of the children's hospital for the last time now after spending most of the last six months there. She held the bag in her lap as Jim drove home. The drive home was hard and it was even harder to go into an empty house. They took the bag to Jimmy's room and started placing the model cars and things back in his room exactly where he always kept them.
Sally lay down across his bed and cried herself to sleep holding his pillow, while Jim sat in a chair staring into space in disbelief and wonder, occasionally weeping, until he fell asleep. Sally woke up about midnight and lying beside her on the bed was letter folded up. When she opened the letter, it read:
Dear Mom and Dad... She immediately called to Jim sleeping in the chair, "Jim, wake up! Look what I have here. It's a letter from Jimmy; I don't know where it came from." So they both continued to read the letter together:
Dear Mom and Dad,
I know you are both going to miss me, but don't think that I'll ever forget you or stop loving you because I'm not around to say it. I'll think of you every day mom and dad, and I'll love you even more each day. Some day we will see each other again. If you want to adopt a little boy so you won't be so lonely, he can have my room and my old stuff to play with. If you decide to get a girl instead, she probably wouldn't like the same things as us boys do, so you will have to buy her dolls and stuff girls like.
Don't be sad when you think about me; this is really a great place. Grandma and grandpa met me as soon as I got here and showed me around some but it will take a long time to see everything here. The angels are so friendly; I love to watch them fly.
Jesus doesn't look like any of the pictures I saw of him, but I knew it was him as soon as I saw him. Jesus took me to see the Father. And guess what mom and dad? I got to sit on his knee and talk to him like I was somebody important. I told him that I wanted to write you a letter and tell you goodbye and everything, but I knew that wasn't allowed. God handed me some paper and his own personal pen to write you this letter with. I think Gabriel is the name of the angel that is going to drop this off to you.
God said for me to give you the answer to one of the questions you asked him about. "Where was he when I needed him?" God said to tell you, "The same place he was when Jesus was on the cross. He was right there, as he always is with his children.
Oh, by the way mom and dad, nobody else can see what is written on this paper but you. To everyone else it looks like a blank piece of paper. I have to give God his pen back now; he has some more names to write in His Book of Life. I almost forgot to let you know... now I don't hurt anymore, the cancer is all gone. I'm glad because I couldn't stand that pain anymore and God couldn't stand to see me suffer the pain either, so he sent the Angel of Mercy to get me. The angel said I was Special Delivery.
Msgr. Frank C. Wissel, D.Min., is pastor at St. Mary Church in Greenwich and the founding director of the St. Maximilian Kolbe House of Studies for boys in Bridgeport. You can reach him at 203-869-9393 or email@example.com.