Sara Berelsman

Copyright 2014 by  Sara Berelsman           

Photos of balloons ascending.

“Faith” is defined by the dictionary as, “Firm belief in something for which there is no proof.”

I’ve always struggled with my faith. It’s unfailingly been difficult for me to do, or believe in, anything without a logical reason or evidence behind it.

I think I might have believed in God when I was younger. That belief disappeared when I went to college. I regained that belief when I gave birth to my first child. My convictions had evolved, however. Still, I couldn’t gaze upon the tiny face of my perfect baby, count all her little fingers and toes, or hold her close to me and feel her heart beating without thinking this was a miracle. This had to be a miracle.

Did I have any logical evidence behind it? No. I still don’t. Yet I believed. I still believe that she is a miracle. Nothing that flawless could come together and form the miniature person who came out of me without some kind of divine intervention. That is just my belief.

My faith has been tested since then, on a daily basis. There are many events that have occurred over the years, various tragedies which have compelled me to ask God, “Why? Why did this happen?” My faith has floundered. Many, many times.

Despite this, other things have happened to reinstate my belief in a higher power. Again, there is no logical, well-crafted explanation. I just believe.

My faith was tested once again fairly recently. A four-year-old boy in my community passed away. I had only recently met his mother, although I felt as if I’d known her forever. We connected in a way in which I feel many people don’t experience with another person in this lifetime. It was meant to be.

When I heard of the drowning, my heart stopped. I froze. The earth stopped spinning for a minute. I prayed that he’d be okay. I prayed for his mom, for his family. I didn’t have many details yet. Still, I prayed.

The community pulled together and formed a powerful bond. I attended the prayer service for little Drew and shed tears as I listened to the words spoken, thought, hoped, and prayed some more that he would be okay.

My heart broke for this family as I thought about them experiencing this unthinkable tragedy that no family should ever have to feel.

When I heard the news that young Drew had passed away, I went numb. How did this happen?  Why did this happen?

This is when I started questioning my faith again. Why, if God exists, if he is all-powerful and all-knowing, why did he allow this to happen?

I attended the visitation and slowly made my way through the line, taking in the various floral arrangements and gifts from people of the community. As I approached the casket, I became more somber, trying to process all this. There he was, his perfect little face, looking as if he were asleep with his favorite bedtime stuffed animal. His sister was rubbing his hand. I hugged his mother and told her if there is anything I can do, please call. Call anytime. She nodded, eyes filled with tears, partially in shock, I assume, yet still feeling the whole reality of the situation. And it is all too real.

I didn’t cry at the visitation, which surprised me. When I got home, it hit me. I sobbed. Uncontrollably. I felt for my friend. Why did this have to happen?

I attended the funeral service the following morning. It all felt like a dream. A dream none of us should be in. I felt numb again. I became fixated on the tag sticking out of the shirt on the woman in front of me. I daintily picked a piece of lint off my black dress. I listened to the words being read from the Bible, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” I felt tears begin to roll down my cheeks. I paid attention to the words as we sang On Eagles’ Wings.  I had never realized before what a beautiful song it was.

The minister began speaking about how we don’t know the reason for everything. We don’t know why Drew had to be taken so young. We don’t know. But God does. Everything we don’t understand here in this earthly life will be answered when we die.  Again, this is the only explanation I’ve ever heard about why things happen…and it tests the faith I so badly want to hold onto.

Drew loved the movie Cars and the song, Life is a Highway, by Rascal Flatts. His Dad told us, “We think he’d want us to play this song and picture him running around the house like he always did.” He loved that song.

Tears were flowing now; everyone was feeling deep sadness. Instead of this little boy filling the room with laughter and life, his lifeless body was placed in the front of the sanctuary, and we were there to remember him.

At the cemetery, two white doves were released to signify his passing, before an assortment of colorful balloons escaped the hands of his family members, the helium-filled spheres snaking their way through tree branches before flying high into the sky until they were merely specks of color among the clouds.

I stood there thinking…still wondering why this had to happen. But that was becoming irrelevant in my mind now. Looking up at the puffy white clouds, feeling the breeze on my skin and the sun on my back, I knew there had to be a reason for all this. There is no explanation. No charts or graphs. No detailed outline composed with Roman numerals. There is no understandable explanation for any of this. Yet, I somehow knew in that moment, there had to be a reason. There’s a reason Drew is gone.

And I believe there is a reason for the events in his family’s life each and every day that will help them heal until they see Drew again and finally comprehend why he had to go.

I realize there are people who will criticize me for having faith in something without concrete evidence. There are also people who will criticize me for not having unwavering faith despite everything that happens in life. It doesn’t bother me though. I can’t explain why I believe what I do. Witnessing what Drew’s family has gone through has restored my faith.

I will do whatever I can for the rest of my life, as long as I am wanted or needed, to be there for this family. I have faith they will somehow, with time, get through this…and one day in the future meet their little boy again, and perhaps dance to his favorite song.

Thank you for restoring my faith, Drew. This is for you.

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