by Todd Burpo w/ Lynn Vincent
Gale, Cengage Learning 2010
I read another blog about a woman who also lost her father to kidney cancer Bumps in the Road. She mentioned this book in one of the posts that she'd written. I read it on the same day that I had gone through my first day of hospice training. In this particular training we were asked to set aside any misgivings of God or our particular faiths or lack there of. We were told stories of patients reaching out into space, gazing at or even talking into the ether in their last minutes of life. We were warned that even if we did not believe in an afterlife, that we could not discount our patients' experiences. I believe whole heartedly in an afterlife. I believe that there is a place that awaits me in heaven. I also believe that children are much more open to these experiences and so the book peaked my interest.
The Burpo family experiences something that would shake any family to it's core. Their three year old son faced death. Little Colton suffers a ruptured appendix and two surgeries to clean out his system. During Colton's time in the hospital the Burpo's turn to their faith and send countless prayers for the well being of their son.
Colton survives and even miraculously thrives (which baffles the hospital staff). The family counts their blessings and continues on with the business of life until Colton offhandedly mentions a recent trip to heaven. Yes, heaven.
He relays messages from Jesus and Todd's grandfather. Todd Burpo instantly believes his son and finds scripture to back up the child's descriptions of heaven, Jesus, John the Baptist and "Pop". Colton continues to remember events and reveals he saw his father praying while he was in surgery, he describes coming out of his body and being held by Jesus. He describes angels, as the bible describes them, not as they are portrayed in paintings. Todd is surprised by his son's revelations because his Sunday school education has not been nearly so advanced for the child to know such biblical details.
Colton becomes a messenger of sorts as time progresses, emphatically expressing that we must have Jesus in our hearts if we are ever to enter heaven.
This was a short read and while I would have wanted to just see Colton's words and not the interpretation of his pastor father, I think the message is more important. I don't feel we should question children. They are far too pure and innocent. My brother spent many months after my grandpa passed, talking to a statue in the cemetery that he claimed was him. My mom, after turning out my light would say "sleep with the angels" and I believe that I did. We were both taught to pray away our bad dreams. Something I still practice 30 years later. Regardless of the lives we chose to lead and the things we chose to believe or not believe, there are countless experiences out there that can not be discounted. I don't know what little Colton experienced, only he does..but I surely believe God was there to cradle and comfort him and his family through his illness. That I won't ever take for granted, because I have experienced that myself.