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Saturday, August 24, 2013

He was just a little boy . . .



It's that time of year again. That time when the yellow raincoat hanging in my closet feels as heavy as my heart. Everyone else is older now and with each passing year, this raincoat looks smaller than it did when he wore it. How could he have once been so small?

I look into the face of my son, that cute photo I took when I was just taking another picture of a child. Back before I realized that it would one day help to heal my heart.


There is so much I don't know. I don't know why Daniel spoke of Heaven so fondly. We never told him that he was going to die. I suppose it was because I never believed he would. Not until the very end after the staph infection shut his body down and the EEG confirmed what I did not want to hear. My son was brain dead.

Prior to that he looked into the sky one day and shouted, "I wanna go to Heaven!" His father and I looked at each other, speechless. No, no, our expressions conveyed. Not yet. Get well first and live and then die an old man.

I don't know why he wasn't able to die an old man. I don't know why he didn't even get to learn how to read.


He memorized. He memorized a complete book of jokes. And Maurice Sendak's Nutshell Library collection. "I told you once, I told you twice, all seasons of the year are nice for eating chicken soup with rice." He laughed at Pierre who got eaten by the lion and said, "I don't care." He loved for people to read to him. Curious George Rides a Bike. Are You My Mother? Where the Wild Things Are.

He spat watermelon seeds, built towers with Legos, loved Cocoa Puffs, and gave stickers to the doctors and nurses. "Because," he said, "you give presents to your friends."


After the doctors said there was no more that they could do, I kissed his cheek and whispered to him that he could die. "People tell me to let you go. To let you go. To say good-bye. You can go." The words sounded too harsh; no mother should have to tell her child that he is allowed to die. Quickly, I added, "But not yet. Not yet."

A bald-headed boy in a comatose condition, bloating on a sterile bed was better than no boy.

Each morning when I woke from the bed by his, I was relieved that he was still with us. Today was not the day I would have to deal with death. Not today. Not yet. I talked to him, I told him that I loved him. I told him he could die and I told him not to.

My mother was reading to him from a children's book about a boy who took a star from the sky and tried to keep it in his bed. But the star didn't belong in his bed and began to lose its light. At last, realizing that the start needed to be in the sky once again, the boy let the star sail back up to the heavens. "You can go, too," my mother whispered to Daniel.

Minutes later, our Daniel star left us. After only four years, his body had served its purpose. It was no longer needed. His spirit freely flew, sailing up to Heaven.

No more cancer, no more tears! "There are no tears in Heaven," he'd told me one day. Then he turned and asked me why.

"Jesus is there and there is no sadness when you are face to face with Him," I said.

There are no tears in Heaven, but there are plenty on earth. Especially when I hear Elton John sing Daniel or when somebody mentions Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story. Or when it's just an ordinary Sunday and the choir sings Amazing Grace.


I never thought he'd die. I always clung to healing, to health, to growing up with him, not without him. To more walks in the rain with him in his raincoat. To more times of him running out to greet the ice cream truck with all the change he could gather from the kitchen drawer.


I expected more birthdays, more kisses, more laughter. I wanted to send him off to kindergarten; instead I send kisses to Heaven. I take pictures of sunsets and sunrises, oceans and flowers, plant memorial gardens, and search for butterflies and rainbows. And I see the gap he has left between his older sister Rachel and his younger brother Ben and his sister Liz----the one he never met.


But after Daniel died, I remembered that I'd had a dream about six months into his treatment. He was climbing a ladder and the top of it was shaded by clouds. He was smiling, happy, no tears, no pain. He waved at me and continued to eagerly climb with a surge of energy. The next morning I shared the dream with my mom and my friend; their faces were sullen. What was wrong with them? My dream was a clear indication that Daniel was going to go from being ill to being free. His smile was a sure sign that he was going to be healed from the disease. We would have more of life here together.

Now I know that the dream was showing me that Daniel was climbing up to those clouds and beyond---beyond what I have ever experienced----where those who aren't around us anymore to share jokes live. I had wanted to keep him, hold onto him, I wasn't ready to let my precious star go back to where he came from.


I still want him here. With us. But I imagine Heaven is too wonderful to leave and once you are there, you are the happiest----your most perfect and content self----the way you were meant to be.


I love you, Daniel. I miss your bright blue eyes.

But your star shines bright. Especially tonight on your 21st birthday.

In memory of Daniel Paul Wisler: August 25, 1992 ~ February 2, 1997






34 comments:

Alton said...

That was a wonderful tribute to your son, you can rest knowing he is in heaven with his creator, you WILL see him again, I will say a prayer for you tonight...

datelile said...

So moved by this sweet account of little Daniel. Thanks for sharing it with us. I think I'm a little wiser and kinder by knowing about him.

Jo Reck said...

Your writing is amazing, sincere and from your heart. Happy Birthday sweet and precious Daniel. I know your heavenly celebration is everything a little boy could ever hope for, hosted by our Lord and Savior.

Gayle said...

Alice, that was beautiful. I love to read your words of love for sweet Daniel.

Zibah said...

I want to comment but am wordless. Drawing alongside today.

Marjorie Hill said...

A beautiful tribute to a Son Most Loved.

Diane Dean White said...

What a sad and beautiful tribute.
My hubby's younger brother also had cancer and died at age four.
He told his family Jesus told him he was going to Heaven and so much more. I think the Lord has a way to prepare children, it's our heart that breaks. Remember a day of reunion is in our future for all that have gone before us, when we get there. Hold onto that!!

josie downey said...

Absolutely beautiful Alice. Happy Birthday Daniel. I hope you are reading a million books in Heaven, especially your mother's.

take care ALice, I will keep you in my prayers today.

Connie Almony said...

I guess I needed a good cry today. God Bless!!!

V. B. Tenery said...

You're so right. No mother should ever have to say goodbye to her chid.
Someday we will know the mysteries of God.
soingsx

Janis said...

Thinking of you today and sending Hugs & Prayers. What a beautiful tribute to your son, Daniel.

Trish P said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Trish P said...

Tears and more tears I cry as I read your precious words and picture your beautiful Daniel so full of life and love. I offer you my prayers and ((hugs)) on this day of birth for Daniel. Living this life "after" our children is definitely not easy but I do want you to know that you words, while make me cry a great deal, help me to deal with my own pain of losing my sweet girl just a year ago. "There is nothing left we can do" should not be words that any parent should ever hear. Bless you and your gift.

Maripat said...

Beautiful. Thank you for having the courage to share it with us.

Diane Wolcott said...

As always, your writing about Daniel tugs at my heart. We moms have such high hopes for our children, and when they are lost to us (at least here) we mourn forever. Love you...

Elaine Stock said...

I know I cannot say one word to take away your pain and sorrow... may God's peace fill the empty space in your heart. God bless.

Cathy Gohlke said...

Thank you for sharing this precious tribute to your son, Alice. Each family celebration, each milestone--especially a day as special as his 21st birthday is surely sacred, painful, and precious. I love your thoughts about sharing sunsets and special moments with him. Thank you for sharing this poignant journey through writing. It helps so many.

I'm looking forward to meeting my first son, Daniel Isaac, in Heaven one day. My Daniel Isaac didn't make it to his birthday, but I know He is deeply, dearly loved by His Savior, just the same.

May God bless you and hold you close!

Kristi Butler said...

You are in my thoughts and prayers, my friend. Much love and heartfelt hugs sent your way.

Jean Davis said...

Alice, I'm sorry for your loss.

suzyparish.com said...

Your post made me cry, but the good kind of cry. The kind that says, "There is still love, and sweetness, and hope. There will be a reunion like no other." You are brave, and kind, and transparent for sharing with us. Thank you.

Deborah K. Anderson said...

What a beautiful boy. And what a beautiful testimony of the love for your son.

Teresa Slack said...

I'm not a big crier like my sister who weeps at sunsets. But your post had me bawling by the end of the first sentence. Absolutely beautiful tribute. I feel your pain and your love and your generous spirit. Another sister lost her son in a traffic accident when he was 7. I also had a vision of him playing in heaven. It brought me such peace and closure. Thank you for sharing Daniel with us on his special day.

Christina (Berry) Tarabochia said...

Alice, this is a beautiful tribute. What a cutie he was, and how amazing that he had a hunger for heaven. God is so gracious, so loving.

Plays with Purpose said...

Dear Alice,
Such a beautiful little boy, that Daniel must have been. I love how God prepared his heart for what lay ahead in his life and he had the courage to share it with you, to talk with you about heaven. He is surely your brightest star. We have a song that stirs up memories too....Starry Starry Night by Don Mclean...reminds us of our beloved Vincent. Hugs to you sweet sister in Christ,
Kelly

alice wisler said...

Thank you for reading. I cherish each of your comments here.

Susan said...

It is a beautiful tribute. And the pictures add so much to the story you tell of Daniel. Thank you for sharing your heart.

Teresa said...

Thank you so much for sharing. What a beautiful tribute. God bless you and yours

Marie Pinkham said...

Just read your heartbreaking and heartwarming post today. I pray that our Father is holding you close here as He is Daniel in Heaven. Love and blessings.

Unknown said...

No words.
~ Susie

Dan, Betty & Sarah said...

Alice,

This brought me to tears as it was such a beautiful tribute to Daniel on his 21st birthday!! He is looking down & saying "good job Mom"!! We hope and pray that you and your family were able to have a gentle day on such an important date as this birthday but I know he was celebrating in Heaven with ALL our angels making his day a special one. Take care my friend...we Love You!!

Chip said...

That's a lovely tribute, Alice. Thanks for sharing this with all of us. Praying for comfort in your life.

Judy Bodmer said...

Touching tribute to a young boy. You made him live through your words. You are a courageous woman. May God fill you with his peace and continue to confirm his promise that you WILL see Daniel again one day.

alice wisler said...

Thanks for all the kind words here!

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