Rest easy, Aiden. You are loved.
A 16-year-old boy was laid to rest this week, beside a tree in a cemetery that sits just north of his parents’ farm. On the day of his burial, 250 tractors rolled south on Concession 4 in Sandford passing by Aiden Hulshof’s final resting place, his family by his side as they took in the scene. It was the farming community’s salute to a beloved Uxbridge teen.
When I heard the tragic news last week from my 15-year-old son, I was overwhelmed with grief. Then disbelief. Then grief again. A dirt bike accident on his way home from school, a split-second, a young life gone. Our town has been on this rollercoaster before – and now it has hit close to home once more. I immediately thought of Aiden from years ago at the hockey rink, a big smile on his face as he ran down the long hallway to the changerooms hauling a hockey bag that was twice his size. My boys and the Hulshof boys played hockey together for a few seasons when they were little, but that image appeared in my mind like it was yesterday. His mom sitting quietly in the warm area of the stands, his little brother and sister playing around her feet, and his dad, with the same big smile as Aiden, watching from the cold part of the arena. My heart broke.
Just a few weeks ago we cheered Aiden on as he competed in the tractor pull at the Uxbridge Fall Fair. He drove his tractor like a boss. We hooted and hollered at the top of our lungs as he went down the track, amazed at this awesome teen shifting gears under the bright lights of the main ring. He was going places.
I’m having a hard time reconciling this devastating loss. It feels unfair. It feels like a bad dream. I am heartbroken for his family. For his friends. For my son who saw him for the last time in the high school changeroom after fitness class, just before the accident. “He always made everyone feel good,” he said.
The fragility of life is raw right now and I find myself asking God some big questions. I’m reminded that God draws near to the broken-hearted, he saves those who are crushed in spirit (Ps 34:18) – and I’m thankful for this promise, because He has some heavy lifting to do right now. His ways are mysterious. I can’t understand His plan. But I trust Him to bring some kind of good out of this tragedy. I trust Him to pour his comfort out on those who are grieving. I know He has Aiden with Him, for this life we see here on earth is not the end.
Rest easy, Aiden. You are loved by so many.