Don’t Cry for Craig
January 1988

“Don’t Cry for Craig,” Ensign, Jan. 1988, 49–50

Don’t Cry for Craig

My physically handicapped son, Simon, was almost seven when Craig joined his class. The class, part of our city’s special needs education system, was small by any standard—only six children with varying physical disabilities. Before long I realized Craig and Simon were becoming great pals. Simon had previously had problems relating to children his own age. But suddenly I found he had acquired his first “best friend.”

Simon talked about Craig often, about his favorite toys, television programs, and the things he liked. I heard constant commentaries of the games they played together. We lived about fourteen miles apart, so it was a while before I met Craig. I don’t remember exactly when or where it was, but I do remember that I was a little startled. Splints, crutches, wheelchairs, and walking frames are common at schools like Simon’s. Craig didn’t have any of these devices. He was a small, skinny boy with a mop of blond, curly hair and blue eyes. However, his bluish lips indicated a serious heart problem.

Craig’s appearance never bothered Simon, though. He was only concerned that his friend was sick. Then Simon started coming home from school troubled. Craig was having bad days. Oxygen cylinders accompanied him to class.

“I’m worried about Craig, Mum,” Simon often said. I didn’t take it seriously. I couldn’t see how he could be all that sick and still attend school.

At a January birthday party, I saw Craig again. Craig’s parents were also there. His mother and I exchanged smiles across the room, and I determined that I would talk to her one day. …

Toward the end of the month more gloomy news came from school.

“Craig’s going to the hospital. He says he isn’t coming back any more,” Simon told me. This caused enough concern for me to ask the teacher exactly what was going on. She said Craig was going to the hospital—to a transplant unit. But despite Craig’s insistence to the contrary, his parents and teacher said he would be coming back. So Craig departed, and we all waited. A few weeks later, a jubilant Simon informed me that Craig was home and would return to school on the first Monday after half-term holiday.

Half-term went by without a hitch. On Monday morning the school bus arrived and, as usual, my husband took Simon to his seat. He returned to the house with bad news—the bus driver told him that Craig had died the previous Thursday.

I sat on the floor in our living room and cried, but the tears were more for Simon than for Craig. I was deeply concerned that I wouldn’t be with him when he received the news. I felt he would need me to comfort him. Later in the morning I drove to school, still mulling over the tragedy. Surprisingly, things were normal in the classroom. The teacher told me there had been tears all around earlier, but now the children were fine. Craig had prepared them by his insistence that he wasn’t coming back. Although only Simon had a knowledge of the plan of salvation, every one of Craig’s classmates believed that Craig would be going to “God’s school” now. As I walked back to the car my heart was lighter. I was already beginning to visualize Craig running and playing. I only regretted that I had not befriended Craig’s mother. Knowledge of the gospel would have been a great comfort to her.

I had more to learn. As I drove Simon home that evening, we talked about where Craig had gone. Simon had all the usual questions, like what had happened to Craig’s body and where his toys would go, but what surprised me most was that Simon wasn’t sad. It delighted him to know that Craig was with his Heavenly Father. I suggested that if he tried hard to live the gospel, someday he might be able to go there, too. “Yes, Mum,” he said simply, secure in his conviction that he and his friend would see each other again.

  • Ann Gray, a homemaker, is second counselor in the Sunderland England Stake Young Women presidency.