For many years, when we lived in Argentina, my Mom – being a very avid reader all her life – would send us “book boxes”. She would send goodies like Reader’s Digest, Good Housekeeping and other magazines for me, and a variety of children’s books for our three kids. We spent countless hours reading and re-reading the content of those boxes! One day in 1984, among the Dr. Seuss books and other treasures, I found a short, very meaningful article in a ladies’ magazine. It was titled “Life Is Short, But Beautiful”. With tear-filled eyes I very carefully cut the page out and place it in one of our children’s baby books. Throughout the years, each time I re-read it, my eyes bleared over with tears. Because this article is so meaningful, I decided not to keep it hidden in a baby book, but to share it with you. Not wanting to post something I hadn’t written, I looked up the author, Linda Andersen, on www.whitepages.com. I finally found her, and explained my intention. Very graciously, Linda consented to my sharing this life-changing article that she wrote so many years ago, and I am very grateful to her for that. Here is what she wrote:
“It was summer, and the morning was sprinkled with sunshine and dew. But as the day wore on, the incessant bickering of my three children began to gnaw at my already limited patience.
By 11 a.m. they had annoyed me to the point that I had to get away. Since driving has always soothed me, I went for a drive, and ended up in a tiny, shaded graveyard just a few miles from home.
A slight breeze stirred through the pines, and my edginess subsided as I strolled around the aging tombstones. I had asked the Lord to “Please do something” as I left the house, but I really didn’t think He would. I wasn’t even sure He cared.
I walked aimlessly at first. Then one of the tombstones caught my eye. The stone was so old and weather-beaten I could hardly make out the engraving. I knelt down for a close look, tracing the words with my finger.
“Children of C. and A. Arndt,” I read.
Stepping to the side, I read, “Charley, Died June 6, 1883, aged 5 years.”
Another side of the stone read, “Ricke, Died May 22,1883, aged 6 years, 19 ds.” Two children in a month! I exclaimed. Those poor parents.
I was in for yet another surprise as I walked to the fourth side of the simple tombstone and read:
“Francis, Died May 18, 1883, aged 3 years, 4 mos. 15 ds.”
At this I sat down in the solitary place and sorrowed for the unknown parents of 100 years ago. They had tasted death three times in 1 month. An epidemic, no doubt.
I wondered if the parents of those children had ever had days like mine. I wondered if they’d regretted every impatient, angry word they’d ever said once their children died. I would, I knew, and I was sure they had.
I felt that if these parents were alive and able to talk with me now, they would urge me to go back home and love my kids. I imagined them saying, “Learn to laugh with your children.” They would no doubt remind me, too, that life on earth is so short that It must be lived abundantly.
And I’m sure they would point out God’s commands to give thanks in everything – and to rejoice. Perhaps they would even tell me to live each day with my family as if it were my last. Some day, I knew, indeed would be the last.
But those parents didn’t need to come back to tell me such things. Their children’s tombstone had already done so. And all of a sudden, I couldn’t get home soon enough.”