Friday, March 31, 2017

Five Years - Just As We Are

*If you've never read Isaiah's Story and would like to, start HERE.

Some things are hard to believe.  Things like realizing dreams have become reality.  Things like realizing children that you babysat as a teen are having children of their own.  Things like birthing five children in seven and a half years.  Things like burying a child.  Things like fathoming that it’s been five years since I’ve seen or held my child.

In the early days and years after our loss, it was so important to say Isaiah’s name.  To hear it.  To see it.  His name was all we had…the only representation of a person that we loved with our entire beings, but never got to know…or hear cry....or hear laugh...or see grow.   The kids and I would often look at Isaiah’s pictures, play with his bear, and talk about what heaven might be like…always always saying his name.  I suppose part of that was forced by me – a mother who fiercely needed to know that her child – one that no one had never known - would not be forgotten.  That he was real.  That he was important.  That he was loved.  That he mattered.  (So many understood the need we had to hear Isaiah’s name and were/are not afraid to say it – and to those I am deeply grateful.)  

As time has passed -- five years of months and seasons and milestones passing us by whether we wanted them to or not -- I still love to hear his name.  But as I think about where we are now and how things have changed, one thing I’ve realized is that I don’t need to be the one to purposely say Isaiah’s name as much anymore.  What a glorious realization to know that my child IS remembered.   That he IS loved.  That he WON’T be forgotten.  It brings such joy to hear his siblings chatter his name in passing or remark to others that they DO have another brother – he’s just in heaven.  To see my twenty-three-month-old toddle from one picture to the next pointing and saying “Zaiah”...(moving to the next picture and pointing)…”Zaiah!”  At some level – sometime during these five years – a burden has lifted in the area of needing to keep Isaiah’s name alive – because it IS ALIVE, and I am so thankful!  The truth is that Isaiah IS ALIVE!  He is SO MUCH more alive than we can be here.  So I’m just thankful to witness the remembering and the casual, comfortable nature that my friends and family use as they mention him to us.  It a relief to know that my village treats him as a living part of our family – even if he isn’t living life here with us.

In recognizing the importance of Isaiah’s name to us, isn’t it appropriate to consider the meaning of his name?  "The Lord is generous; Salvation of the Lord; God’s helper"  I love seeing how God is showing himself to us in these meanings.

As far as grief and coping with grief, I don’t know if I have many new things to say.  Many of my old posts about waves and tending grief are still true, but the waves come less often (yet they are still quite deep when they do).  If you don’t give due diligence to tending grief, it will find you -- or in other words, if you don’t choose to remember, the remembering will find you.  But I’m thankful that so many aspects of early grief are a memory…especially the anxiety, the flashbacks (for the most part…I’m so glad that Isaiah’s birthday doesn’t fall on Holy week this year), and the overarching cloud over body, mind, and soul.  

Spiritually, I have seen how the Lord does beautiful things with our experiences if we let him.  I praise and thank him for never leaving or forsaking me.  I guess I’m not at a point that I thank him daily for allowing my son to die or choose to believe that he purposely did this to teach me a lesson, but I accept that he allows things that we cannot understand and amazingly uses everything in this life for HIS glory, and I thank him for THAT.  Blessed be the name of our amazing, all-powerful, tender, merciful, magnificent LORD! 

I have so much gratitude for the blessings in my life, yet it still hurts to think on the chattering five-year-old boy we don’t get to celebrate with this weekend.  I guess maybe it’s just in the process of getting older that I’m realizing that life is never one thing or another.  It’s never just sadness or just joy.  It’s never having it all together or completely falling apart.  It’s a beautiful mix of seasons, days, hours, even moments where these status’ change.  So I try to hold up with open hands the feelings of the daily joy I get to experience with my dear family, the blessings and challenges of the constant sacrifices that come with raising and schooling our little ones, the privilege of enjoying a wonderful marriage relationship, the forgiveness and grace I experience through Christ, the love I receive from my friends and my kids, and the tending of the grief of our loss of sweet Isaiah.  There is just no easy way to describe life “Just as we are.”  For it is always changing…ebbing…flowing, but we know that we must focus on today, thank God for his abundant gifts, and nurture each moment as it comes.  For only God knows which earthly moment will be our last.

Loving and missing everything about you this week and always, sweet boy.  
It's hard to imagine you would be five(!). 💙

We will once again be doing acts of kindness to celebrate Isaiah’s 5th birthday this weekend.  We call it Isaiah’s Kindness Project.  If God puts a kindness opportunity in front of you, please join us.  If you participate, please share your experience with us.  This annual expression of love fills our hearts with joy as we aim to honor God and celebrate Isaiah’s life, not just remember his death.💗

If you'd like, you can print off one of these cards
to let others know you're doing this in honor of Isaiah – or keep it anonymous.