What a horrible word, right? You don’t often think about death until it happens to someone you love. At that moment when you are faced with that insurmountable loss – it all changes. What really does happen to us when we die? Are we simply gone? Or is there a greater power than us, like a God? When death strikes is he there waiting to accept and comfort them?

Honestly I have no idea and I’m really ok with that. What I do know is that after Axel was killed it profoundly changed the outlook on my life. I’m in NO HURRY to leave this world, I have a wonderful Wife, incredible Son and another on the way. However if I were to be taken tomorrow I can only ‘hope’ Axel is waiting for me on the other side with his arms wide open. A friend of mine who moved to Japan a few years ago sent me this story that was told to him by a Monk. Is it true? Who knows. To me it is no more unbelievable than any other form of worship out there and it really made me feel good reading it. After all, at the end of the day, isn’t that really all we have in the face of death – HOPE.

Dear Jen and Randy,

A  story that I would like to share with you…
It helped me to find some healing at one point in my life. I hope that you guys may be able to find some healing in it as well… This story was told to me in Japanese so it has my own interpretation.

When we were living in Ridgway years before we met you, we were walking in Telluride… From across the street came an Asian man that we would soon realize to be a Japanese Buddhist monk. We initially thought he came over to talk being a fellow Japanese. However in actuality he could tell we were in pain and needed some sort of healing.

He eventually found his way to our home where we shared stories… One of them was this:

He spoke of life in Japan… Temples in Japan come in all shapes and sizes, from the larger ones in Kyoto to the smaller ones in neighborhoods… All of them are outdoors in almost a park setting however clearly a place of worship.
In the center is the main shrine of the temple where most people go to make an offering and pray for something. However around the main shrine are a variety of smaller shrines. These shrines are there for people in need of something a little more specific in their lives.

One of these smaller shrines plays a very important role… It is a shrine with a statue of an older lady with open arms. She plays a very specific role. Her role is to bring in all the children that have left this world too early in their lives. She brings them in and gathers them together. She nurtures and cares for them. But that is not all… she educates them and prepares them for their journey ahead… It’s a fun place for children to learn and enjoy with other children.

Now keep in mind, I’m not a religious man. Hearing words from this monk entered my mind with a grain of salt however I was open minded. I had been to Japan many times and seen the many shrines at all the temples with people coming and going.
It never really hit home however until I lived here. Though it is not especially a busy shrine,  it does get visitors. Both old and young. From young children that have lost a sibling to great grandparents. They come from time to time to make an offering and have a prayer.

That’s when you realize the children aren’t alone.

The journey that is being prepared for is a very important one. One that comes sooner for some and later for others.
For a time will come when this “mother figure” will take Axel by the hand and lead him down a path… A path that leads to a river where they will stand and wait.
For there will be a day when it is time for you to leave this world as well. When you do, you will also come to the rivers edge. As you slowly cross over the river, This mother figure will take Axel’s hand and take him right down to the river’s edge. You will look to the other side and see his smiling face… When you arrive, she will take his hand and place it in yours and you will continue on your journey together.

There are no words that are the “right” words… But I hope you can find some healing.



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