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Monday, December 7, 2015

Missing Mathias

The world lost Mathias Giordano - one of the most charming, brave, polite, compassionate and funny boys I have ever met - a year ago today to osteosarcoma.  In the past year, his loyal friends and family have done some remarkable work for pediatric cancer patients in his name.  They have been relentless - courageously showing up at event after event.  And every time I see them, I feel both the absence and the presence of my young friend in equal measure.   A year later, we find this world Mathias left increasingly broken and dark.  We feel increasingly terrified and weary. This boy we lost endured 30 rounds of chemo, 3 major lung surgeries and the amputation of his leg.  I'm certain at times he was terrified and weary.  And yet, in the times I saw him, he seemed always to be looking at the world as it should be, as it could be and not as it was.  

This morning I wonder how Mathias might have changed the world if only we'd worked harder to find the right treatments for him.  I wonder how the future of a boy so compassionate, so brave, so full of character could have helped to heal the world if only we could have healed him.  Then I remember that Mathias only needed just a short time - a handful of hours with me - to teach me what one person can do to change the world.  God gave Mathias his turn to make the world better and he was a champion.  He is leaving us to our turn.  Our God has called us off the bench, friends.  Our turn.  We're up.  

Mathias, I cannot promise that in this 2nd year of a world without your example that there will not be times that I will be terrified and weary.  But, today I am ready.  Today I will choose hope and faith.  Today I will work hard in my little corner of the world to make it as it should be, as it could be.  You taught me well, friend.     

The following piece was written  a year ago - the morning after I heard of Mathias's passing.    

Dear Mathias,

Hey, kid.  I'm a bit of a mess.

All of us down here.  Dude, we are all a big, giant mess.

I want to find the right words for us.  I want to feeI in my heart the words that I believe in my head.  I thought all the tears that I spilled would clear my mind.  A full hour straight of choking sobs as I sat in the car hunched under the steering wheel, hiding from the passers-by in the parking lot while waiting for Drew to come out of his baseball lesson yesterday.  I thought that would do it and I would be full of hope and faith - ready to spread the good news of Jesus Christ, the end of the suffering, the comfort that you are whole and free.  I want the words to come spewing out of my fingertips so that my heart feels less burdened and this splitting headache ceases.

Last night, I came to this space where I find God.  And I left and poured a drink.  It tasted like dust.

Last night, I came to this space where I know God.  And I left and ate a huge piece of red velvet cake.  It tasted like ash.

Last night, I came to this space where God gives me words.  And I left to watch a movie on TV.  It was kinda dumb.  Like, really bad.

And now it's 5:00 AM and I come to this space again.  The day after the news came.  The news that it would be you.  You would be the first one.  The first child that I knew personally.  The first that had given me a fist bump and made me laugh and shined a giant smile at me.  The first to be stolen by cancer right out from under my eyes.  And I came to this space in the darkness, icy rain pelting my kitchen window, in pjs that don't match and hair that is matted from restless sleep and eyes swollen with gunk and a tummyache from that crappy piece of grocery store cake.

I am ash and dust and I don't have the right words.  Words that are worthy of you.  Words that are worthy of Him.

And yet, I know God waits for me.

I want to go to Him.  I want to be dressed in my Sunday best and full of my Sunday hope and clean with my Sunday purity.  But it's Tuesday.  And I am Tuesday angry and Tuesday sad and I need a shower.

And yet, I know God waits for me.

Could you tell Him, Mathias?  Could you tell Him that I want to come to Him and I'm trying?  That I want to have words to write and speak and sing but I can't find them? Could you tell Him that I want to use this space to be His hands and feet? Could you tell him that I know that THIS.  Yes, THIS is the whole flippin' point of my writing?  That I believe with everything that I am that you are there with Him and that I need to tell people?  That I know you are free and happy and I need to tell people?  That I know that now you look exactly like the Mathias that we know? That now you understand all the mysteries of this life?  That you knew it in a second without even a moment's flicker of the raging doubt that threatens to pull us under?

I want to come to God like you are now.  I want to be like you.  Smiling and whole.  Beauty and perfection.  Hope and confidence.  I know what's happening this morning.  I know you're charming the heck outta Jesus.  And I know I'm supposed to be able to relay that I know this and I want everyone else to know it, too.

But I am left here.  My heart shattered.  I am not in my Sunday best today.  I don't have the right words.  But I remembered a song I heard a few weeks ago.  And this band, Crowder, with this song, Come As You Are, has some words.  I will listen to this song about 400 times today.  And I know that God will welcome me just as I am.  And He will make me new.  Then I can go out just like you did, Mathias.  I can be a light in a world full of darkness, just like you.

Will you tell Him, Mathias?  Will you ask Him to help me?  And while you're at it, tell Him I said thank you.  Thank Him for giving the world you, if only for this short time.  The world is better because of you.  I am better because of you.

Rest in peace, my sweet friend.

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