5 = the number of days until I send my oldest to Kindergarten.
6 = the number of days until Joshua's first birthday.
We are finally arriving at the single 2 days that I have dreaded most over the past few months.
In a short 5 days, Caleb will be waking up with all of the excitement and anticipation that accompanies going to your very first day of school.
He will wake up and eat breakfast. We will pile in the van, drive the mile that it takes to get to his school, and walk him to his very first classroom. I will leave my baby for the day, after a quick hug and kiss, and I'm sure I will probably sob the entire way home.
He is so very excited to start school- to learn to read and write and do math. He's excited to meet new friends and use all of his brand new school supplies.
I am so very excited for him, yet my stomach churns at how quickly the past 5 years have flown by. I'm even more sickened at how many of those years I put him 2nd- putting my teaching job 1st- as if it were more important than being home for family dinners and bedtime routines. But I can't look back and dwell on my past mistakes- all I can do is look forward to the future and continue to cherish the time that I have with my little boy.
As I think about this last week at home with Caleb, I can't help but to drift back to this time last year. We were busy preparing for the birth of our 3rd child. A child with a very special and very broken heart. I was soaking up the sun in the back yard of our old house, watching Caleb and Hannah play, wondering what life would look like over the next year. I remember thinking about the future- what it would be like to have a one year old, 3 year old, and a five year old at home. I remember feeling terrified of what the future held, but trusting that somehow God would provide for our every need.
I never in a million years thought we would be celebrating a one year old's birthday without the one year old.
August 16th has been a day, that as I think about it, has brought me to my knees in grief. Just the thought of Joshua's birthday has brought such paralyzing sadness to me, but as it approaches, I'm feeling peace.
Don't get me wrong, I can hardly think about the 16th without shedding some tears, but I know Joshua is where God intended for him to be all along. As I think about what type of party I would have been planning for him, I am reminded that no matter what I did for him here, it could never top what he is experiencing in Heaven. But it doesn't make it any easier and it doesn't take away that raw pain.
As I think about his birthday, I am reminded of all the milestones that we missed- smiles, giggles, rolling over, crawling, and belly laughs. I am reminded of all of the sleepless nights that we missed out on, the bottles that needed washed, the doctors appointments and upcoming surgeries. I'm reminded of the snuggles and slobbery kisses that we never got to experience.
But, there is peace in the pain. There is strength when I didn't think there would be. There are plenty of tears and sadness, but ultimately there is Hope. Hope that this pain, even though it will last my entire life, will eventually end, and I WILL get to see my baby again. There is thankfulness for the 51 days that I got to love my child, and that I was there to hand him over into the arms of Jesus.
As we get closer and closer to this next week, there are plenty of tears that will be shed. There is plenty of pain that I'm sure will suffocate me at times, but I will be ok- not by my own strength, but by the grace and strength that God will provide me to get through the pain.