Nick was special. That what he would have been called when I was growing up. Special as in “special education.”
He didn’t talk until he was three or four. He was in foster care. For reasons I don’t know, Don and Carol brought Nick and a bunch of other kids out of foster care, into their hearts.
He had survived non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma a year ago. On Monday last week, he volunteered at Sharehouse the way he always did. He went home before noon. He felt sick during the afternoon. And at 2:30 am on Tuesday, he died. No clear reason yet.
Even at 22, he struggled to write. He didn’t talk much with most people. He was big. He didn’t always stay on task. But at his funeral on Saturday, four pastors from a church large enough to have four and more conducted Nick’s funeral. Each told stories about Nick, about one young man in a church of many hundred.
- “He always said, ‘I’ll do whatever you want,’ when we asked for help.”
- He’d say, “Pastor Ron, you know what I did this week?” whenever he learned something new.
- “I never saw him angry,” Nancy whispered, sitting next to me. “He always smiled, always tried.”
- “He really believed God. Even in his cancer treatments, I’d ask him how he was doing. ‘God is bigger,” he said.”
- “He and his brothers learned how to help and then did it, faithfully.”
- “He had a way with kids. He understood them, they knew it.”
There are ways of talking about functioning in special ed. I’m not sure where Nick would fall. But what it comes to spiritual ed, Nick was special. When Pastor Ron finished the service, he said, “We’ve all been marked by this man of God.”
Apparently, it’s what you are with what you have.