Thursday, November 19, 2009

My Walk with Adam

On July 16, 1997, my first grandson, Adam Charles Kelsey, was born. He died a few hours later. We knew before his birth that he could not survive.

In November, 1997, I made a silent retreat with the Jesuits.

The retreat started after supper on Thursday night and ended with supper Sunday night.

Saturday afternoon. I have had profound moments of sorrow this weekend when I think of Adam and our loss. This morning, I decided not to fight it any more, but to make Adam, his brief life and death, the focus of my retreat. I decided that, this afternoon, I would go for a walk and imagine that Adam was with me. I imagined him about four years old. Whether it was my imagination, or Adam’s spirit, I leave for you to decide. We had a nice walk.

We start up a hill and through the woods. I showed him deer tracks and bird tracks in the snow. Black berries hanging on a bush. Trees now big that were small ten years ago, when I first walked this path on retreat. Adam asked how I met Grandma and where does snow come from. I told him, but I said his Dad could do a better job explaining about the snow.

We walked for over a half hour. I told Adam that his mom might be alone and lonely and maybe he should go visit her. He told me that he could be with his mom in an instant. We should finish our walk and he’d go to her then. That sounded reasonable to me, so on we went.

We came to the wildlife pond and I told Adam how I’d watched a muskrat sit on the ice and eat some years ago. A huge “V” of geese flew overhead, and I told Adam that I’d seen geese swimming in the lake by my room this morning. We walked to the pheasant pens and I showed him ring-necked pheasants and Chinese pheasants and told him how I’d gone pheasant hunting with my dog Sandy when I was a teenager.

It was getting late, and I needed to hurry a bit to make the next session in the chapel. We headed for my room and Adam said, “Let’s go down to the lake and see if the geese are swimming there.” Well, they had just flown over us a few minutes before, so I didn’t think they’d be in the lake, but OK, let’s go. I think that Adam tricked me.

We walked down to the lake and, as I suspected, there were no geese. There was, however, a bald eagle soaring over the trees across the bay. The moment I saw the eagle, Adam was gone from me. He was with the eagle -- he was the eagle -- flying lazy circles over the lake. I watched him for about five minutes. He then flew over my head and disappeared behind the trees.

Later. I’ve thought a lot about my retreat. I have told this story many times. I felt such peace. I believe there are no coincidences. I believe that Adam took a walk with his Grandpa that afternoon. I thank him and God for making it possible.