It was a big deal to Emerson.
My son got a pet last week. It was a little crab that stayed in a box by his bed. His name was Climber.
Emerson loved that little crab. He would tell it "Good morning" when he woke up. He would tell it "Bye" before he went out the room. And he would tell it "Good night" when he was going to bed in the evening.
My son recently finished a creative school project on Frederick Douglas. Daily he would set his project by Climber's home. And daily Emerson would say, "Dad, he likes looking at my Frederick Douglas project."
Well, over the weekend, Climber died. Before church yesterday, it became obvious. So we gently broke the news to Emerson. That did not go over so well. My son wept. I haven't seen him cry like that before. It broke his heart. He said, "Climber was my best friend" as tears rolled down his face.
I placed Climber's home on the back porch with the Frederick Douglas project yesterday before church. We left him there for most of the day. Then, around 7:30 last night, we had a funeral in the back yard. Yes, a funeral. Lizzie dug a little hole. The our whole family gathered together in a circle by his burial site. I held Climber in my hand and said the following:
"We are gathered here today to commit Climber back to the dust of the ground. He was a good little crab. Emerson and the rest of us enjoyed our time with him. He made us smile and he brought a little extra happiness into our lives. So thank you, Climber, for being such a good crab."
Then I led us all in prayer. I thanked God for letting Emerson enjoy a few happy days with Climber. And I asked God to comfort Emerson's hurting heart with peace from above. After all this, we laid the little crab in his grave, and Lizzie covered him up. Finally, we placed some rocks around and on his burial site so Emerson can visit it whenever he wants.
Emerson cried at the crab's funeral. He hugged me and his tears got on my shirt. Also he hugged his sisters and mother. Then we went inside.
See, God reminded my wife, daughters, and me of a simple lesson through this experience: When something is a big deal to another person, it needs to be a big deal to us. In a way, I think that's what compassion is. Sure, crabs die every day. That may not be Earth-shattering news. But this one really mattered to Emerson; therefore, it mattered to us.
May God give us all sympathetic hearts. When we see someone hurting or grieving, let's show them love and compassion. Even if the problem is not a big deal to us, let's remember it is a big deal to the other person. And the best thing we can do is be there for them and encourage them.
As we were walking inside, Lara noticed Emerson's Frederick Douglas school project beside Climber's old, empty home. Then she said this to Emerson and the rest of us: "Hey, I have an idea. When we get another crab, let's name him Frederick." We all agreed that was the best suggestion anyone could have given. And Emerson seemed pleased with the idea.
Tomorrow I'll go to the pet store. But I won't get a crab. Instead, I'll get two of them. A boy and a girl. And I'll do everything I can to keep them safe and alive. Why? Because it will be a big deal to Emerson. That's all the reason I need.