Today is your birthday. You would have been five years old.
This year on your birthday there will be one empty seat.
We will miss you sitting at the table with us as we celebrate your birthday.
For you this would have been a milestone year, as turning five years old would be for so many others. You would have entered kindergarten. You would have been riding a bike.
No longer a baby, you would be able to stop taking naps and hang out with the ‘big’ kids.
Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
We feel your absence every day. We miss you every day. Every single photograph taken presents an opportunity for all of us to feel your absence. All five of your sisters have playmates, your solitary brother is often alone and feels left out.
We often lament on the fact that there should be one more romping around the yard jumping on the trampoline, and sitting at the table for meals.
The old saying, “absence makes the heart grow fonder” is actually very accurate. We do miss you, David!
Even though it has been five years since you have died. I still can vividly recall every single second of that day. It has been etched into my mind. In some ways, I am thankful for having written these memories down, in case I do forget. And on the other hand, I am grateful for my brain still being able to recall these memories. I am already finding that other details of my life are not so clear. I forget things if they are written down or if I am not reminded.
So much has happened in the past five years since you have died. We sold our longtime family home, bought a new home, had another baby, and are now watching your siblings grow up. I find it hard to believe at times that is has been five years. A lot can happen in five years. We now have teenagers in the home. The days of diaper changes, cribs, and strollers are gone. Bigger house, bigger kids, and bigger vehicles.
Not only are you gone David, but five years of memories that you should have been in are never going to happen.
This year I would have walked you to your kindergarten class as you attended school for the first time. Now I can only imagine what it would be like.
Does it sound like I am living in the past? Perhaps to some, it may, but only those that have birthed and lost a child would know of this loss. It is a deep and profound loss. You bled, you breathed, and you were born. You were alive. You counted. Your life mattered.
I was able to be your mother for a few short hours. I was able to nurture you and tend to you during that short amount of time. I would never change that for anything. It was meant to be.
Being one to always look towards the future, I often don’t dwell on the past.
One cannot pretend it did not happen. And of course, I will never forget you. You are part of who I am David. You live on in all of us.
However, just as it says in Philippians 3:14, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” My hope is that someday David that we will be reunited in heaven. Until then my son I continue life without you but looking forward.
A person cannot move ahead if their thoughts and vision are focused on the past. My prayers and hope is that the forward momentum towards an eternal future will be my reward. My faithful service will be my eternal reward.
By pressing forward, I am preparing for whenever and however I shall meet with Christ.
Until we meet again David and the day I meet my Savior, I shall not look back with regret or longing for the past, but instead to focus on what I can do today and in the days ahead to live for Christ until I can meet with Him.
We have so many pictures, so many memoirs, and so many more memories. Of course, we shall never forget you. However, after five years I have arrived at a place where I often don’t allow others to venture, that place where its a sacred dance of grief and joy.
One song or one picture brings me back to that moment, that day when your presence graced this earth. I can be back there in a second.
Often in reminiscing about you, I can both laugh and cry within minutes of each other. I can cry thinking of the last minutes when you began struggling for breath. I can laugh at the thought of the little breathless squeaks your voice made when you attempted to coo and cry.
Weary and Burdened
In those dark days after the diagnosis and before David was born. I was physically sick and exhausted. At one point I had been sick for nearly three months with a severe bronchial infection and could barely talk above a whisper. My voice was nearly gone and was my strength. Never before had I been so weak.
I had difficulty breathing and developed a chronic cough. The constant sickness, exhaustion, and pregnancy had depleted me to the point I could barely function. All I could do was cry out to God for help.
I recall reading in Matthew 11:28 where Jesus said, “Come unto me all you are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” I know that I was given rest. I know that in those dark days that I was never abandoned. I was sustained through His strength. I was given the strength to do tasks on days I struggled to find the energy to get up out of my chair.
Grace met me at the door of situations that seemed impossible and I continued walking with an upright posture to accomplish what needed to be done. I prayed for a miracle. I prayed hard. I begged and pleaded with God to save my baby.
I would negotiate and bargain with God. During those times of prayer, I would be on my knees until they were so stiff I could not stand up very easily. I cried until I could cry no more and my shirt would be soaked with my tears. It was during these times that His grace met me, sustained me, and comforted me. Because of His grace, I knew that He cared for me.
At one point the prayers of my heart began to change when I was still pregnant with David. I began to pray for wisdom and peace. I wanted to give God glory through all of this. I wanted my pregnancy with my son, who was deemed incompatible with life, to be glorified for God.
I knew through all of this that I had eternal hope. It is a hope that I never lost sight of in this journey. I had known all along that God was capable of performing a miracle, and saving my unborn son’s life.
Yet in my heart, I knew the truth and accepted that David was going to die. Once I began to accept the truth of the situation, I was able to have peace, a peace mentioned in Philippians 4:7, and it transcended all understanding. I knew that everything would be fine. This peace allowed me to trust God and put the worries and anxieties aside.
Peace Like a River
After the loss of David, I clung to God more than ever. I knew that He was with me when I was at the graveside crying in the pouring rain or in the middle of the night when I had yet another nightmare. Because grief is like an ocean that tosses you around, it’s often difficult to endure the constant flux of the emotional tidal wave. One needs to be grounded and for me remaining on the rock is what saved me from drowning many times.
All for God’s Glory
So many good things have happened since you have died David. I am able to love on a level that is deeper than I could fathom. I have become more understanding, and realize that everybody has a story to tell.
I realize exactly how precious life truly is. Even the life of an unborn child is worthy and oh, so precious.
I value life much more than ever before. I try to live a more purpose-driven life, and not let life slip by without having an impact. I have an inner strength that allows me to be more true to myself. I know what my strengths are, and what are my weaknesses.
I know that my part of my purpose is to minister to those that have lost a child. The opportunities presented for me to counsel other mothers has been such a blessing.
I have learned to embrace change more than ever. I have learned how to be more graceful and content. And only time will tell how many blessings will come from David’s story.
On David’s 5th birthday, I have hope and my family has hope. Hope is not to give up. Hope is eternal.
I know that I will see David again and at that point, we will never have to be separated again.
Hope looks forward with desire and confidence and expectation.
The sun always rises every morning. With that sunrise is a hope that each day will bring about new blessings and renewed optimism for the day ahead.
Regardless of what happens, I know that I do not have to face the day alone. Even though I have a hole in my heart that will never be filled on earth, I have hope. So many lose hope during tribulations, but the Lord intends for them to produce hope, through faith.
Hope means trusting in God to provide what I need on days I cannot function. Hope is setting my sights on things that are not going to fade away.
I refuse to derive my sense of joy from earthly things. For these things too will fade away. But my faith and hope through Jesus will not. Until then I have hope.
Happy Birthday My Son
So on this day of celebrating David’s 5th birthday, we will do so in fond remembrance, loving memories, and laughter as we recall the events of the day. My older children will patiently answer the questions of our littles. Rachel, our youngest has never met her brother. They would have been fourteen months apart in age. I can imagine how close they’d be today.
We have the birthday cookies ready. Our hearts are ready to go to that sacred place where we were five years ago. Today we will visit the cemetery. As we walk the cemetery, the tears will flow as they always do. Yet underlying all of this sadness, is not despair, but joy. Pure joy for having been his brother, father, and mother. Pure joy at having been chosen to be his family.
Happy Birthday, David. We love you. Until we meet again my precious son….
Stephanie, Training Keepers of the Home