Sunday, August 17, 2014

Birthday, Grief, Love, and His Presence

Yesterday was Joshua's birthday.

It's a day that we are supposed to look forward to and enjoy. It's a day that is supposed to be filled with family, cake, laughter and joy.

It's a day, that so many tell me, that I need to celebrate his life instead of mourn his death.

But how can I celebrate a life that isn't here? To sit around a birthday cake made for a son that is dead is one of the most depressing things on the face of the earth.

August 16th is a day that I dread every year. It's a day that all the memories come flooding back to me. It's a day that I remember how much hope I had for my son's life. It's a day that began the last 51 days of my son's life. It's a day of sadness, not because I didn't appreciate or value his life, but because it's a day that signifies his absence in our lives and in our family.

Over the past 3 weeks, I've done a great job of keeping busy. Two weeks of vacation, summer camp, and the beginning of school have kept my mind preoccupied. But I knew it it was coming. My heart knew that there was really no true way to avoid it.

Yesterday came. The day my son should have turned 4.

There were tears. Lots of tears. Tears from me. Tears from Shane. Tears from Caleb.

Oh, the tears from Caleb. Those are the most heart breaking tears of all. Have you ever watched your 8 year old son process what it means to be "celebrating" his dead brother's birthday? It's awful and heart wrenching. It leaves you crying out for Jesus to give you the strength to make it through; to give you the wisdom and grace to put aside your grief to comfort your grieving child. It's like a sick and horrible punch to the gut that leaves you breathless.

But amid the grief and the tears, there was a Still Small Voice whispering peace. God's goodness was shown again through the kind gestures and words of others. His provision poured forth through cards in the mail, a bouquet of flowers, a cake delivered to our door, kind words on my Facebook timeline, supportive texts to both me and Shane, friends who visited just to see how we were, a family member who came and provided company when loneliness threatened to consume, a card sent to our children reminding them that their brother is loved and remembered. God knew what our needs were and provided for every tiny little detail throughout the day.

My heart is still shattered from losing Joshua. It doesn't consume me daily like it used to. In fact, if I'm not blogging here, that is usually an indicator of having a good day. My bad grief days are few and far between. But when they come, they COME. It will likely always be that way, and it's ok. It's ok because it shows how much I love my son. My tears are my way of letting my love and fierce devotion to Joshua show. It's my way of letting my heart cry out to God, begging him for peace and assurance. It's through those tears that Jesus draws me closer to him and breathes healing into my broken heart.

Happy Birthday, Joshua. Your Mommy, Daddy, brothers and sister love you so much. We miss you, sweet boy.

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