Son, I Don’t Know Why Your Mother Died

Dear Ian,

You’re about to turn 3 years old, and I’m amazed at how quickly you’ve grown. I remember bringing you home from the hospital like it was yesterday. Whenever I feel like I’m not getting any older, I just look over at you and realize I’m not as young as I once was.

There’s so much I look forward to teaching you. How to shave, how to play basketball, how to treat a lady, how to dance (on second thought, I can’t really help you with that last one). All of those things will come later, of course. You don’t need my help with girls or dancing right now, especially since you wouldn’t listen to anything I’d want to share anyway, and that’s OK. There will be plenty of time to grow, learn, risk, fail, and mature in the years ahead. It’s what makes us human.

But there’s something I want to write down for you now while it’s still fresh in my mind. You might not be ready to hear it until you’re in your 30s–which means I’ll be in my 60s!–but that’s fine. By then, I will be a different person and probably won’t be able to relay this lesson with the same potency that I can now.

Anyway, here goes:

Ian, I don’t know why your mother died. I really don’t.

You see, Son, your life will be full of surprises, both happy and sad, joyous and grievous. I wish I could guarantee that the only time you’ll cry is when you’re laughing so hard it hurts or when you’re seeing your own beautiful bride walk down the aisle, but I can’t. I certainly hope you experience more good times than bad, but there’s nothing any of us can do to ensure one and prevent the other.

And no matter how hard we try, we will lose people we love. It’s universal to the human experience. We usually don’t know when it will happen or how, but it will happen. I know because I lost your mother tragically and unexpectedly. She was fine one day, then suddenly she wasn’t.

I’ll relay all the details of exactly HOW your mother died when you’re old enough to ask and understand. But for now, I think it’s important for you to know that I have no idea WHY your mother died.

I’m sure you’ll hear loads of explanations from all sorts of well-meaning people with good intentions. They’ll probably tell you that God is in control and must have had a reason to allow this to happen. Maybe they’ll mention something about heaven needing another angel. They say those things because they don’t want you to hurt, and they hope that those words will somehow bring you comfort. But they’re just as unsure as I am (and by the way, God does not turn people into angels. People don’t grow wings after they die. That’s Hollywood talking, not the Bible). We often think we can use words to salve the pangs of grief, but it doesn’t work that way. We can’t talk our way out of mourning, and no amount of human explanations will ever be satisfying.

I have my own explanation that brings me comfort, but I don’t know if it’s true or not. Personally, I like to believe that your mother died because she had fulfilled the plan God had for her. God wanted you to be born, so He had your mother carry you to term and give birth to you, and then her task in this world was complete. It was time for her to be in the presence of Jesus. Your mother loved the LORD and looked forward to the day when she would be made whole in heaven, so I know she is rejoicing where she is now. She has her eternal reward and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. She got to go home.

Maybe that’s why she died. Maybe it wasn’t. I really don’t know, and I’ll probably never know in my lifetime (and I won’t care when I’m in heaven with Jesus).

Of course, you may never fixate on why your mother died. You weren’t old enough to become attached to her, so you might not feel the same sense of loss as I did. And honestly, I will be glad if you don’t. Life is too short to focus on the negative. Grieving and mourning are necessary and healthy, but if we’re still alive, then God still has something He wants us to accomplish. After all, the Hebrews only mourned Moses’ death for a month before God told them to get up and move on. We can’t do God’s work if we’re determined to focus on the things we cannot change. And I know from my own experience that when I trusted in God completely, He changed my perspective and turned my tears into joy. I never would have found Lauren if I had focused on the pain of the past.

In the midst of the storm, Ian, God has been very good to our family. Soon, you will have a new mommy who will love and cherish you. The maternal void that has been with us these last three years will be gone, and nothing could make me happier. As we celebrate your 3rd birthday, let’s thank God for what He has done. This is the day that the LORD has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Happy Birthday!

Love Always,


Ian and Daddy posing for pictures after church.

2 thoughts on “Son, I Don’t Know Why Your Mother Died

  1. Young Joseph your name popped up on Linked In so I guess I was meant to read your post. I dont have any answers for Ian either.Maybe one day when he is older and I get a chance to meet him I can tell him he has a great Dad. I am guessing he already knows that.

    I may make it back to the courts one day.

    Liked by 1 person

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