Here is the text of what I shared at Vincent’s memorial service on December 3:
Five years ago, I stood before many of you at the memorial service for my father, Ron Stringer, who passed away in October 2005 at the age of 56. I had just turned 25 when we lost my dad, and now I find myself barely 30 years old, struggling to cope with another loss of an immediate family member whose life ended far too soon.
Tonight, as we honor the impact and influence of Vincent’s life, I am no longer in the role of a grieving son. This time, I am the grieving father. Rather than grieving the loss of my own father, I have myself become a grieving father. Maybe this is all part of growing up. Maybe this is all part of true fatherhood.
In losing my son, I’ve had to re-visit childhood in order to re-learn the lost art of crying like a baby. I just miss Vincent. I miss my good baby boy – that’s really all there is to it. And while there’s so much to say about our family’s journey with Vincent through the furnace of affliction these past 18 months, there are hardly any words that can fully articulate the depth and scope of this loss.
Perhaps I’m catching a glimpse of what it was like for the Everlasting Father to lose his only Son, to see him plunged into suffering, pain and death. Or maybe this is a hint of how beloved Son of God lost his Father in the darkness of Calvary, crying out “Why have you forsaken me?” I did not want to drink this cup, and I pleaded with God countless times over the last 6 months, asking if there was any way for our family to be spared from this sorrow. Many of you were with us in that place, praying for a miracle until the end.
Now that Vincent has passed from this life to the next, as his father, I must once again pass through the deep waters of grief and heartache. But if there is any hope or comfort to be found in this valley, it is found not merely in the treasured memories of my son Vincent, whose name means “Victorious one.” It is found in the true and greater Victorious Son who is before all things and in whom all things hold together. If there is any strength or courage or peace to be found in the face of death, I have found it in the risen Redeemer who not only holds the whole world in his hands, but simply holds me when I cry – just like my dad used to hold me, and just like I used to hold Vincent.
Out of darkness comes light and because of Christ’s death and resurrection, both Vincent and my dad now stand truly victorious in the arms of Jesus where there is no longer any suffering, sickness or pain. I can only rest in the hope that my father and my son are both fully alive, wholly themselves in the presence of the true Father and the true Son.
And because of this living hope, I look forward to the day when my faith will become sight and all my sorrows will be finally be swallowed up into an eternal victory. Until then, I will carry wounds and scars, but to the extent that you see me surviving, functioning, recovering and even rising from these ashes, all credit is due to the supernatural grace of God revealed in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.
My dad never got to meet Vincent in this life, but I suspect they are already making up for lost time in the presence of the true Father and the true Son. So praise be to the One who will wipe away every tear.