We have a ritual around here for bedtime: pajamas, brushing of teeth, read a bit. Just before lights out, my wife and I, who are somewhat neutral to religion, ask the kids to say their evening prayer ("now I lay me down to sleep," with the "up" ending) and dedicate it to people who need help from God to get through what they are facing. For months, we've been praying for our dear friend Buddy, who was slowly dying of lung cancer and, mercifully, shook off his mortal coil on Thursday morning.

That night, when the kids mentioned offering their prayer for Buddy, I told them that he had died. My 8-year-old gasped, then after a slight pause, said with all the blessed assurance that only children have, "He's safe now." I needed to be reminded of that. He is indeed.


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