“What if Your blessings come through rain drops? What if Your healing comes through tears? What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near? What if trials of this life, are Your mercies in disguise?” Laura Story couldn’t have said it more perfectly. This song has touched our family for years, beginning with the loss of my cousin, far too soon. My Aunt Pat allowed these words to minister to her heart through the days, weeks, and years after her son went to Heaven. Our family knows loss, as I know countless others do as well, up close and personal. But it’s natural, it’s a part of life, we are given life and our lives are taken away. Right?
I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around that sometimes. Natural? Death of a loved one is natural?… A parent? Unfortunately, yes. A spouse? As much as it pains me to watch and I dread the day that I may go without mine, or him without me, yes. But a child? No. That can’t be. There’s something so raw and vulnerable about losing a child that I can’t describe. I feel like I’ve literally lost a part of my heart. It’s left me feeling detached at times, but also more empathetic and compassionate. Sometimes I wonder if I bottle my feelings up and don’t express them, or if I’m so hardened and numb that I don’t have any in the first place. But in the quiet of my car, or the peace of my bedroom, sometimes out of the blue and without any warning His healing comes through tears. It’s amazing what a good cry can do to refresh your perspective, attitude, and emotions. There are no tears in the world that would erase the unnatural feeling of this loss, but there is a God who carries us through it.
Today our precious son would have been 6 months old. It’s heartbreaking to think of what could have been. He may have been crawling by now, tasting his first bites of baby food… loving his fruits and hating his veggies. He may even have a word or two under his belt and would likely still be sleeping in our room. I picture him looking so much like his big brother, but with his grandpa’s red hair. He’d love to giggle at his big sister when she made faces at him, or squeal in delight when his brother would tickle him. His siblings would dote over him and make sure his every need was met with their childlike innocence. I can feel God telling me not to ponder on these thoughts, as they don’t make things any easier. And, ultimately, what “could have been” is not what was meant to be. Our little boy wasn’t intended to spend more than those eight and a half months, plus six and a half short hours here with us, but I continue to believe, and have been shown repeatedly, that his precious life will have an everlasting impact on so many. I’m so grateful for the opportunities that I’ve been blessed with this share his life, and his story… they help make the pain of his loss a little less intense.
My Uncle Scott is very sick. He was diagnosed with liver cancer only a few short months ago and has been declining rapidly. His Hospice workers have predicted it’s only a matter of time at this point. When I first found out about his illness it hit me like a silent gut punch. The “numb factor” has probably inhibited me from feeling this loss but this will be another very difficult one. I’ll be the first to admit that we have never been as close as we both may have liked, but he’s my momma’s brother, and I love him dearly. What I will never forget, however, and what John and I will be eternally indebted to him for, is what he did for us in the midst of the turmoil 2017 brought.
When we’d first received Ethan’s diagnosis and had decided that termination was the route we needed to go, we knew we wanted to be able to bury our baby, offering him the dignity he deserved. My uncle, an incredibly skilled and talented woodworker, immediately set to work building a tiny casket for our 12 week old little one. Not 2 days later, as our journey veered down God’s path rather than our own, Uncle Scott graciously offered to build us a different casket for the full term baby we prayed we would have the chance to meet. It wasn’t until walking into Spring Hill Baptist Church on January 6th, in front of our family and friends, that I witnessed what an amazing work of art he’d created for our son. Our funeral director told us in the days leading up to the service that, although we hadn’t originally planned to place his casket in a vault, he believed it to be the most beautiful infant casket he’d ever worked with and felt it deserved as much protection as we could offer it. This gift… this resting place for our son, was created by the same hands that I held yesterday and said goodbye to. He is headed towards an amazing reunion with some of the most incredible souls I’ve ever known, but most importantly to me, he gets to go meet the child he worked so hard to create this gift for. John and I will never forget what he did for us, and for Ethan. Many prayers would be appreciated. For my mom, her sister, their families, but most especially the precious wife that he will be leaving behind. Words can’t describe how my heart breaks for her as she watches the love of her life travel this path to his eternal home, being left with only her memories of their life together.
I told John yesterday that I’m tired of death. My heart is weary from the sadness that these losses have brought. I long for rest, peace, and joy… knowing full well that that’s not what we were promised in this life. I know that in our soul’s final resting place we will have what I yearn for now. Until that day comes, I will do my best to continue to enjoy every moment that I have here on this Earth, taking every trial as a blessing, a lesson in faith.