It was seven years ago today that my family lost my dear nephew, Eric Baetens, in a car accident at the age of 21. This is always a tough week for us with the anniversary of his death on the 18th and his mother’s birthday on the 19th – my beloved sister Stephania whom we lost to cancer in 1995.
When Eric died, I wrote a few pages of thoughts about him. Below is one story from what I wrote that week:
Several years ago when we were exchanging Christmas presents at the farm, we gave Eric a present that was wrapped in a box pulled out of our attic. If your family is like mine, there is no telling what the outside of a gift-wrapped box may say because we save about every box that might be used for gifts. That Christmas, Eric’s gift was in a box that originally housed a frozen lasagna. When Eric took the wrapping paper off, he looked at the box, cocked his head and said with cautious surprise and an obvious lack of enthusiasm something like “Oh…lasagna” and started to move the gift to the side to make way for the next one to unwrap. We stopped him and said, “No, open it up, there’s something else inside.” And every Christmas since then we’ve given him such a hard time about the lasagna.
Perhaps you’ve had presents like that where what it looks like on the outside is very deceptive, and if you don’t take the next step and dig a little deeper, you never discover the gift inside. When I think of Eric and his cowboy clothes, his belt buckle, his large physical stature, it is easy to imagine that someone who didn’t know him – who might just pass him on the street – would see the tough clothes, the strong physique and maybe miss what’s on the inside. For if they didn’t take the next step and dig a little deeper, they might never discover the gift they would find there. Indeed, Eric had a heart of gold.
In memory of Eric, leap year lesson #261 is Dig a little deeper to discover treasure in others.