Today is the 6-year mark of the departure of my son to heaven. These “anniversaries” are never easy.

I remember that day so vividly . . . July 24, 2008. It was a happy day.

The sun was out, it was warm, and I was babysitting my granddaughter Stella. My wife, Cathe, was teaching a Bible study to Stella’s mother, Brittany, and Brittany’s mother, Sheryll. Brittany’s husband, Christopher, was driving to work at his job at our church in Riverside where he was the art director.

It was almost past 10:00 A.M. and usually Topher (his nickname) would let his wife know he was there safely, but there was no message. Brittany called him and he did not answer. She texted him . . . Still no answer.

Brittany told me and I called and texted Christopher. No answer.

My last text to him was “Where are you?”

You can’t text from heaven.

There was no response, because our firstborn son, Christopher David Laurie, had left this world for the next one at 9:01 A.M.

When I heard the news it was as though time stopped. I could not believe this was actually happening to us. But it was.

There is still such pain and sadness there. It was a tragic day.

Yes, even six years later, I look back on that day as tragic. I wonder what went through my son’s mind as he realized he was going to have a collision. It happened so fast.

Did he cry out for his mother?

Did he cry out for me?

Or did he cry out to Jesus?

Many years ago I took a very young Christopher out surfing with our friend Ricky Ryan. We were waiting for some waves when suddenly a monster set started to build. As any surfer knows, when waves are coming, you either catch them or paddle toward them to go over or under them. You never run from them, or you will be pounded in the whitewash.

A little panic hit me as I thought of how vulnerable Christopher was. I was thankful to have a seasoned surfer like Ricky there. We both looked at each other, grabbed each side of Christopher’s board, and started to paddle full speed toward the huge waves.

Christopher, just a little boy, with eyes like saucers, saw those waves and cried out, “Oh, Lord Jesus!” Needless to say, we survived that day.

I wonder if that is what Christopher said on July 24, 2008, when he realized this life was about to end here and a new one about to begin on the other side. I’m sure it was something along the lines of “Oh, Lord Jesus!”

For Christopher, as he left this world for the next one, it was a happy day. There in heaven he was welcomed by the Lord. One day we will see him again. And once again, it will be a happy day.

So today is a tragic day. But it is, in other ways, a happy day. And one day, it will be the happiest day of all when we see each other and Jesus face to face.