The Note

October 15, 2009
by Freda Van Winkle

Isaiah 43:2 – When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. (NIV)

    I expect to pass through this world but once; any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow-creature, let me do it now; let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.
      – Etienne de Grellet, French poet and missionary (1773-1855)

Winter break had started off with a tragedy for one of the boys in the fifth grade class I was teaching. His mother had died in a fire when she entered the house a second time to save the boy's younger twin brothers.

I had just a few minutes to go to the funeral home before leaving for the airport to join the rest of the family in Florida. It was a drizzly day with fog and no sunlight. Anticipating that I would miss him, I wrote him a note.

If anyone could identify with what he was going through, I could, because I had lost my father in a gas explosion. The only difference was that I was much older when my father had his tragic accident.

Winter break over, we all returned to school. My fifth grader became distant, so I played it by ear and never mentioned the loss. I wasn't too surprised, and could parallel some of his feelings, as I could never mention my father's death or discuss it with anyone for years.

Summer break came and we all parted. When the fall term started, the boy's former minister came to me with the news that the family had moved out of the county.

I asked how the boy was doing.

To my surprise, he responded, "Oh Freda, I want you to know he carried that note from you in his pocket until it was so frayed it was hardly legible."

I was drawn almost to tears realizing that in a covert way, I had helped this boy through the greatest tragedy in his life.

Prayer: Lord, help us to realize that we do make a difference in individual lives, even though many times, how we do so is unknown to us. May we always strive to lessen the heartbreaks in life, because we will only pass this way once. Amen.

About the author:

Freda Van Winkle
Warren, Indiana, USA

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