The meaning of Isaac


In Hebrew Isaac means laughter, and Isaac certainly brought us that. But he brought us so much more that just laughter.

Isaac also knew tears. He was only seven when Daddy died, and that affected him far more deeply than any of us ever knew. He grew up feeling deeply for those around him, often seeing and understanding their pain clearly when it was so easy to overlook.

Isaac was on a search for truth, beauty and all that was right. Sunsets, flowers and children worked their way into his drawings and photography. Again and again we were stunned at the beauty he found in what seemed to us a normal day. It never shocked him, because that is how he saw life, or saw that it should be. He wrote me once that life “is so full of parting and pain.” Earth’s distance from God and all its faults drove Isaac to find the reality of God, even when others thought his search was so much less.

“We must dream, because we are made in the image of Him who sees things that are not and wills them to be.” Gary Hardaway

Now he is experiencing adventure and freedom of eternal life to the fullest. His heart is healed of all the pain he felt and saw here on earth. The void he left in our hearts and lives will never be filled by a person, but again and again we will lift our tear streaked faces to God and know he understands. He lost a son once too. He knows the pain of parting.

But much better, he also knows the joy of that eternal reunion and sweet fellowship forever. Someday soon we too will experience it. Suddenly heaven seems so much closer, more appealing, so right. After all, part of me is there, not only my grandmother, daddy, two children, but now my brother and kindred spirit.

Mommy asked me if I wanted to write a letter to be read at the memorial service and I balked and stalled. How could I possibly fit into words my deep relationship with Isaac. I knew I couldn’t. But early the morning of the memorial I woke up knowing that I had to try. So below is what I pecked out in that quiet morning hour.

Dear Isaac,

It is so hard to put into mere words what all a person means to you. You came into my life when I was five years old, and I celebrated your arrival by tucking this squirming new bundle into my plastic red wagon and racing up and down our apartment hallway. Mom’s friends were afraid that I would round the corner too quickly and dump my wagon with its valuable contents. But Mom was not worried, and I don’t think that we ever had a spill; not so much because I was a careful driver but probably more because you were born for adventure and learned when you were very young how to hold on.

Who knows how many hours we spent in the back yard hunting out small, unsuspecting garden snakes with Mom’s salad tongs, or crawling through the tall cannas pretending to be jews hiding from the Natzi’s. We dressed up as cowboys and Indians, climbed up the massive tree or barrel raced around buckets on our stick horses. I was not lacking in imagination or you in zeal to launch into any adventure. So we both, with our siblings behind, lived a childhood that went from one adventure to the next.

Cowboy boots were exchanged for real hiking shoes and play satchels for a large backpack. In Guatemala we reached the top of the highest volcano only to look over and see another one, tall and austere, daring us to climb it. When we heard that you have to hike for three days to simply get to the base, remember how we looked at each other and nodded? Some day we would climb Volcano Tacana, just to prove that it could be done.

But you were more than a childhood playmate to me and taught me much more than where to pick up a squirming lizard. When I went through one of my darkest times, when my dream for my future seemed to be crumbling in my hands, you took my hand in yours, caught my tears and listened. Remember all our late night talks in your room? You always understood, even when I didn’t know how to put into words what I was feeling. Other times it was you that talked and I listened. We found in each other kindred spirits, fellow dreamers and best friends.

You taught me so much about life, about wanting answers and choosing to be real. Instead of slipping down the path of the normal and accepted, you chose to climb to find reality, even when it involved being misunderstood. You made mistakes, and you made good ones. But you inspired me again and again to be honest and to do what it takes to find what was right. Thank you for being willing to let me go without locking me out of your heart. Thank you for still letting me peek deep into your heart. Thank you for all the times you hiked through the woods over to our little honeymoon home so we could talk. Thank you for the calls and emails once we lived in Honduras. 

One of the happiest and hardest days of my life was my wedding day, when you gave me that last tight hug and walked me down the aisle. I never knew a heart could be so thrilled while at the same time throbbing with such pain. The look on your face as you released me to Daniel could not hide your agony. Thank you for being the man for me, for loving me enough to let me go.


Now it is my turn to let you go… Do you know how it feels to walk into your room and know that we will never have another talk in there at some crazy hour of the night? Or bury my face in your shirt, hoping to catch some lingering smell of your cologne? Or how it feels to stand on the edge of the Lempa River, whose swirling waters carried you away from me into the open arms of Jesus? 

Yes, I’ve struggled to let you go. I wanted to keep you, to have so many more good times and long talks, but I cannot help but smile through my tears because I know that you have embarked on the greatest and most thrilling adventure ever. Heaven has suddenly become more of a reality and I cannot wait to join you there. Once again we will get to hike the trails together. Then there will be no more parting. So wait for me. I am so eager to join you. After all, this life is so short. 

Tell Daddy hello for me. I know you are having a blast with him.

I miss you incredibly. Till tomorrow…


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