Last night I was blown away by a strange twist of information that emotionally took me to a point of tears and deep sorrow for a young wife and mother of two. Our favorite place to eat in Cusco is a place called Fuegos. It is just across the street from our old apartment. We have developed a connection with the owners of the place. We have invited them to church and other events and they have come into our café as well. About Christmas time, Nick headed back to the US where his father was close to passing away as he had been fighting cancer. He mentioned that he was going to make sure he was there for his dad as he had not been there when his mother passed. He returned to the US to care for his dad. His wife and two kids were here to continue to operate the restaurant in his absence. All seemed like it was going fine, and then, just last night, we walked in wondering if Nick had returned. He had mentioned that he would stay until his sister’s wedding and then come back to Cusco as it was supposed to be sometime in April. They did not expect his father to live this long.
I opened the door to find Nick’s wife, sitting at one of the empty tables in the restaurant. I asked how she was doing. She gave me a weird message via body language and shook her head. I immediately thought that Nick’s dad had passed and that she was feeling the sorrow. She said in a crackled voice, “oh, you have not heard?”
I told her that I had not heard as she handed me a funeral announcement card. As I looked down and assumed it was for Nick’s dad, I realized that the picture was not of an aged man. It was a young man in his early thirties with a strange resemblance of Nick. Then I raised my eyes to read the name, and in fact it was Nick. He had passed away.
My heart sunk. “What happened?” I asked.
As this broken young widow tried to explain the situation, she, with quivering lip and moistened eyes, proceeded to tell us that Nick had a heart attack. He was just 34 years old with a young wife and two kids.
Wow, what a load of burdens to carry. Surrounded by every footprint of Nick, she is running the restaurant in which his DNA makes up every aspect from the homemade barbecue sauce to the smoked ribs and specialty desserts. I cannot imagine the toil her heart is going through. Although it soured the mood of our meal, I personally used it as a reflection point for me to think about the quickness of life. Teri and I talked about the situation with Nick. What would Teri do if it was me? What would she have done if it was 6 years earlier when I was that age? What would I do if Teri was to pass? Not necessarily fun to talk about, but it really puts things into perspective. Death is not something to fear. It’s going to happen to pretty much all of us.
As this was a shake-me-up moment, I realize that we have a finite time here to do what God has called us to do. We also have missed many opportunities to share Christ with people. We will probably miss more in the future. I hope I never do, but I am a sinner saved by grace and nowhere near perfect. I do not know if Nick had made a real decision to follow Christ. Each day, people lose their lives without finding the true salvation in Christ. Death has no sting as long as you are in His hands. I fear it not, but the sorrow of losing a loved one like this breaks my heart.
I have committed to pray for this young mother and her two kids. I would ask that you do the same. Pray that as a result, she will be drawn to the one true god that can provide the peace that seems so far from her at this moment. I also pray that as you reflect on this situation, that you can use it as a wakeup call about our own mortality. Don’t wait any longer. When time is up, it is up. Get it right, right now. Start that journey where peace is with you before, during, and after the tragic events take place in our lives.
Please pray for this young family (the Kaufman family). They are heavy on our hearts and I would love to shower them with a blessing of prayer and peace that will get them through the storm.