We would hear our girls’ laughter drift down from playing dress up. Interruptions of anger over older brothers pranks. Years of prayers. Joys. Heartaches. Change. We grey and wrinkle, waiting. Death comes but not for us. Not yet. God, we yield to your ways. But we don’t like them. Not now. Not today.

I penned these words this morning when I learned of Kappel Cloninger’s unexpected death at 27 years old. As parents you know. I know. The years of pain unique children bring. The child who defies every known parenting method. The schools who truly don’t have the capacity to handle these unusual ones. The advice. And oh, the judgment. Sigh. The siblings who live in the shadow of the one who sucks the very oxygen from the room.

We pray them into adulthood. We cling to any sliver of hope that they will survive. And if truth be told there are those days. You know the ones I mean. The dark ones. The fleeting thoughts we can’t voice even if only to ourselves.

But with Kappel, he surprised all of us. His story was one of unbelievable transformation. One that those who’ve lived a difficult parenting journey rarely dare believe could actually happen, especially for their child.

And so I sit on a New York city sidewalk typing. Les Mis, playing at full volume. Tears streaming down my face. Neighbors are kind enough to nod without asking. Kappel’s sister often spent the night in our home and the girls would sing these songs at the top of their little lungs. A pathos not yet experienced.

I know that God is good and wise and just and all powerful. I know that to the core of my very being. But it doesn’t mean I have to understand or even like what God allows.

Today I don’t like it one bit.