How does one quantify the value of a life? All we have are memories, moments, impressions. From the womb, a person’s full, colorful personality is aglow in all its richness and complexity. As they grow we see it mature, but if you have had children you know that the essence of a person never really changes.
As I watch my baby sleep, his jaw set in a determined frown, I wonder if in some sense he always was. I wonder if his soul preexisted his conception and was there in the heavens with God before making an entrance on this earth; a timely answer to my prayers for a son. As we watch him grow, it seems as though he always would have been, even if we hadn’t received him. Maybe this is nonsense, but seeing such a fully formed person from birth, I can’t help but wonder.
We laid the body of my grandfather Charles in the ground on a beautiful sunny day in May. To his last days, the vibrance of his spirit was alive through his jokes and determination. From a young age, he lived with grit, steadfastness and strength. He loved people, taking every opportunity to talk to friends and strangers alike. He worked with his hands, building the house my mom was raised in and building furniture and machinery. Most of all, Charles loved music. One day, someone brought him a violin that was damaged and unusable. Charles took the time to learn how to repair it, seeing the value and potential of the broken instrument and working painstakingly to make it play again.
After this first violin repair, Charles learned how to make instruments and soon perfected the art. He built and repaired violins for me and all my siblings, and paid for music lessons for us. We played together as a band for many years, but as we each married and started families of our own, we disbanded and went our separate ways.
For his funeral, we took our instruments out of their cases and played and sang together again. How beautiful to have this tangible representation of Charles’s legacy. I still can’t believe he’s gone, his life and breath fading away so suddenly. Still, his legacy will live forever, the ripple effect of a soul visiting earth for 85 years.
I see that same determination and self-sufficiency in my son’s face, and it makes me wonder about the early years of my grandpa’s life as he figured things out on his own. It shows me the necessity of valuing every human life, and teaches me to look into the soul and see the spark of God on the inside of every person. We’re just visiting earth for a brief time, and then we will return to the bosom of God.