When David’s son, Nick, was 7 years old, he was having struggles in school causing him to have self-doubt. One night, Nick asked, “Dad, Is there something wrong with me?” Before David laid him down to sleep, David told him, “You’re the best 7-year-old boy in the whole wide world, and your daddy loves you.” The next morning and every morning afterward before he went to work, David would go into Nick’s room and repeat this phrase. Each year the number would go up by one, but the every morning tradition did not change.
That is, that number did not change until January 2011 because that is when 13-year-old Nick died in an accident at home. Since 2011, the phrase has been the same – ‘Nick, you are the best 13-year-old boy in the whole world, and your daddy loves you. Now, however, David does not go into David’s room in the morning and kiss the top of his head as he says these familiar words. Instead, this is how he ends every post on his Facebook blog where David has documented his grief journey. It is also repeated throughout the book he wrote about Nick which is entitled, ‘Forever 13’ available here on Amazon.
My favorite image from David’s book is not that little phrase, however. It is the image of a ‘bean counter’ in heaven. The bean counter is there putting a bean in a jar each day that our child is in heaven. Initially, that image bothered me. I kept thinking of Andy’s jar filling up after days, months, and years, but then David says that this same bean counter has another jar with our names on it. In this jar, a bean is removed each day. Each bean represents the number of days until we will join our children in heaven and each day, our jar has one fewer bean.
I love the idea that as Andy’s jar fills, mine is being emptied. The number of days between Andy’s death and mine has been known by God since long before Andy died. That number has never and will never change. The only thing that changes is which jar the beans are in. One day, when my jar is empty, I will see Andy again and be able to say to him, “Andy, you are the best 14-year-old boy in the whole world, and your mommy loves you.”