It was near the end of our month with Danika, Jared and our brand new grandson.
We were spending the day with a couple half-way between Lynchburg and their home near D.C. We had high hopes for this rendezvous, but for unspoken reasons we believed we were going into the very thick of spiritual warfare.
We had so wanted Levi to come with us to Virginia, but he was waiting to start a new job at Starbucks. He had not yet met his two month-old nephew, Elliot, whom he nicknamed El Nino Burrito.
Levi had surprised us both the morning we left for Lynchburg with a goodbye that was especially affectionate.
We had been in phone contact virtually every single day. Karen had talked with him for nearly an hour just a couple days before, when he was excitedly telling her of his plans for the future.
I had sent him a long text giving some biblical cautions concerning a certain (non-romantic) relationship. He received it respectfully and affectionately as nothing more or less than the fatherly concern he had grown up expecting from me. He said he was already cognizant of every point I made and every scripture I referenced and would proceed with caution.
"I know all that, Dad," he texted.
I said, "Yes, but as your Dad, who loves you and cares about you, I have to tell you again, anyway."
"I know that, too," he said.
June 22, 2016, was the only day of the entire month we were out of cell phone range with our son.
The ONLY day.
Karen expressed concern over that more than once during the day, but our main focus was the couple we were with. We smiled wryly at our notorious tendency to be worry-warts when it came to our kids, and told each other we were going to do better at that.
Back in Waukesha, Levi blew off work that day at his new job at Starbucks.
His manager had only known this exceptionally polite and responsible young man for one week.
But one week was long enough to know something was very wrong. She called, but we never got that call.
We never saw the voice mail she left until after our son was in the presence of his sweet Savior and Lord.
He was sighted during the day, and there was a short but very pleasant conversation with a New Tribes coworker after supper. She said he was sitting calmly and quietly on our back porch, reading.
He was smiling, friendly and seemed "so peaceful."
Although he wasn't found until the next day, June 23, it was sometime later that night our boy took his last breath.
They say this pain is just the natural consequence of how deeply I've loved you, Wivs.
This time, "they,” (otherwise known as “the inimitable collective of ‘them’”) just happen to be spot on.
You were, are now, and evermore shall be
My Extraordinary son.
Karen Ziegler Richards