My life was uncertain before I was born.
The American poet Carl Sandburg warns, “The greatest certainty in life is death. The greatest uncertainty is the time.”
My family wondered if my time on earth would be mere months.
My parents, Henry and Helen Dyck, came to Canada from Russia. Religious persecution had driven them and their families here, to a country that gave them the freedom to worship without interference. They were people of deep faith, but well acquainted with grief. They married in the summer of 1954, and had their first child a year later. At five weeks premature, Leonard was tiny but gained ground quickly, becoming a precocious toddler. In 1957, a second son, Raymond, was born. It didn’t take long for my mother to realize that he wasn’t gaining any weight.
She was fighting a physical battle for his life, but she was also in a spiritual battle for her faith.
In my mother’s journal, she explained, “I carried Raymond day and night . . . and our entire family had joined us in praying for Raymond’s health.” Then, when he was three months old, Raymond was hospitalized with a temperature of 104 and pneumonia. “The next morning, as I was working by the stove, a voice in my head said: The way you have prayed for this child―if he dies you’ll know there is no God.” Without hesitation my mother responded, “Even if this child dies, I will never turn my back on God.”
Very early the next day, their doctor called and said Raymond had passed away during the night. The only photo that remained was Len’s shocked face in front of a tiny casket.