n his birthday we celebrate and remember, LIFE.
We remember the 16 years we were blessed with him in our lives, as our son and brother. As a child grows, we celebrate the milestones . . . the first tooth, first step, first day of school, driving, graduation, marriage, first grandbaby. How I love these celebrations, and I have many of them. But when it comes to a death date, it’s hard. It’s not a celebration or another milestone, EXCEPT, we are that much closer to heaven and eternity. It’s an anniversary that will always have a cloud over it.
Today marks 10 years our 16 year old son, Matthew, has been in heaven. This 10th year has hit a bit harder than some of the past years. As our children have gotten older and reflect on when Matthew died, they not only lost their brother on earth, they lost parts of their childhood. They lost a part of their parents as they were lost in their own grief. No one just snaps out of it – and gets on with normalcy, because it’s not normal for parents to bury their child. It’s not normal to lose a child to the choking game and for siblings to have memories of that day forever embedded in their minds. I will share about the choking game and give it’s warnings and if you have not talked to your children, PLEASE sit down with them TODAY and warn them. It’s being done every day in school, buses, at parties, and alone. It kills.
But today, I think of my whole family, and my heart is sad. This is not a woe is me post. It’s just a sadness that is much more than losing a child. It’s losing years. It’s parts of my children growing up that I do not remember because of the blur of too many years lost in grief. Over time our children have revealed what they lost too. They see it as mom or dad “checked out”. I gave up on things – sending the kids to bed without praying with them, eating away from the dinner table for many years with the TV on and no family talk. We hid behind various things. Yes, we miss Matthew, and always will. But today, we miss a lot of other things. But, it’s not hopeless.
It’s ten years our son is temporarily out of our lives. Compared to eternity, we will forever be with him again, sooner than we can imagine. But, for now, we have things to complete on earth. I recently was reading through Joel and read in 2:25, “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten.” Israel’s crops had been destroyed for years, not just because of the locust, but also because seeds could not be saved. It had a long term affect. Joel saw the destruction as God’s judgment. Then, God promises to “restore” those lost years of the locust because of their repentance. He promises to not only restore, but give abundant blessings.
“You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
and praise the name of the Lord your God,
who has dealt wondrously with you.”
This restoration is both physical and spiritual, because what follows is praising God. Their hearts are joyful again.
There are many good memories in our past ten years, with a new child and new children being added to our family by marriage and then a grandbaby. For my children, it’s my prayer that God will restore the years that grief has eaten. It’s just what’s on my heart this year, this 10th anniversary. I have more of a glimpse of what our children have gone through and voids in their lives. I am sorry. I am sorry for the pain it caused them. I pray they will never understand the pain their parents have gone through. I pray for abundance of continued blessings in their lives and they will continue to see God satisfying their lives in ways people humanly cannot.
Someday all tears will be wiped away, we won’t miss the lost years, and we will not miss our temporarily missing son and brother.