“Thinking of your dad today. Hard to believe it’s been 4 years. Love you.” I sent that text to my nephew Casey (my brother’s son) on the anniversary that his father passed away.

I intended to make Casey feel loved and remembered. Because of our shared experience with his father’s battle against leukemia and his eventual death, Casey and I had grown closer. He showed his love through texting, phoning, visiting and sending pictures of his daughter.

When Casey’s reply popped up, I stared at my phone. “I wasn’t thinking about today. Wouldn’t have known unless you said something. I try to think about him living, not dying.”

Startled, my heart sank. I wanted to encourage him, but it seemed I’d offended him instead.

What should I do? I could react and defend myself or ask God to help me respond the way He would. I wondered, was I too focused on Greig’s illness and death?  Had I barricaded myself in a prison where sitting in sadness was my only agenda?  By choosing to stay aware of his absence had I hindered my ability to picture where he lived now and what my life could be like without him?

God reminded me of a favorite verse that answered my questions. Isaiah 43:18-19 says, “Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it?”

Casey-Gail scene IMG_7566-002I decided to follow God’s way and that choice opened my eyes to see things from His perspective. I realized that Casey wasn’t trying to attack me; he was expressing what he does to keep his dad’s memory alive.

The next morning I sent the answer I knew would please God: “Great perspective. You’re right. He is alive!” Our positive communication led to other honest conversations.

Now I’m experiencing emotional freedom from dwelling on the absence of my brother. I’m glad Casey sent his text. He taught me that every day I can celebrate Greig’s life—a life that will last throughout eternity.