Our friends just had a child die. He was young and going fast and went off the road. That was that. This photograph is the view from behind the tree he hit.
His father told me he never wondered, Why Me? and I understand that, because we all imagine the moment when some dark thing will happen, especially to our children, and we wonder instead, When Me?
The family inspired our entire village with the way they honored their boy. After they learned the awful news, the father and brothers began to build a casket. With friends, they took a truck to get the body at the hospital. The father told me the hospital staff had never had this happen before, because now everyone yields all such jobs to professionals.
They did everything with their hands, their love, and their individual attention. They did it in an older way, as it once was done, without protection from reality.
They brought the body home. The women washed their boy and rubbed him with oil and kept him in the house so people could visit and say goodbye. The men finished the casket, and the family and friends carried it through our village to the cemetery, gathering a parade along the way. Everyone was at the church, overflowing.
The family allowed the community to share their grief and to support them in their grief. At the service, the father said, "They say it takes a village to raise a child. Now I know: it takes a village to bury one."
They have reminded us of our strength to face such things--surrendering to the facts, surrendering to solace, surrendering the borders between us.