There has been a long pause here with writing. Life, new grandbabies, joys, heartaches, homeschooling, public school, graduations, running with more extra curricular activities than in years past, and just life! God paused the writing. I used to “think” writing a lot. But God stopped a lot of my mind thoughts with that. I like writing, but the writing went elsewhere, including a lot of snailmail letter writing. The last few weeks as another heaven anniversary of our son approaches, my writing mind wanders more. We have an amazing joy on Matthew’s anniversary date. I was anticipating it to be good. We have something to celebrate on his heaven date. There is joy again. But . . . there’s still the ache that resurfaces at unpredictible times.
Friday afternoon I came home to the kids watching old videos from the year our son died. To see his face as I remembered him those last months, to hear his voice and laughter. Oh how I wanted to reach through that screen and hug that boy. And then, there were areas I sure did not want to see. Where he died (which within weeks after his death was totally gutted and remodeled). I didn’t want to remember. It sucked the breath out of me. And satan reminded me of my failures . . . where I messed up . . . what I could have done differently . . . the what if’s. My husband and I got out for dinner. He felt that air sucked out of him too. I am thankful we can share our hearts on this together and “get it” where most (thankfully) don’t understand. We text one of the kids asked for videos not to be on when we got home. I am thankful they have joy seeing it. But sometimes, even the joyous times, just plain hurt.
Saturday morning a friend posted this quote by Henri Nouwen:
One thing I want to ask you is to not allow the dark forces of your soul to draw you into a deep pit. When you give too much attention to the voices of despair, you will find yourself quickly moving downwards into depression. Don’t trust those voices, but continue to give special attention to the voice that speaks of hope, the same voice that said to Jesus, ‘You are my beloved Son. On You My favor rests.’ Trust deeply that you are God’s favored child, and try to speak and act and even think out of that knowledge, even when you don’t always feel it. (Love, Henri: Letters on the Spiritual Life)
My friend Deb did not know the whispers I was hearing. I needed to get out of my downer mood, and remember the joys I can so celebrate and not listen to those voices of dispair. I know Matthew would want us to. He is alive, just not alive by our sides.
A few hours later our house was filled with four grandkids running and crawling about while parents went to a Christmas party. And the next day, yesterday, we celebrated our youngest grandson’s first birthday. There’s something really special about his birthday. He was born one year ago, on the day Matthew died. And not just on the same day, but within the same hour. ONLY GOD could do this. I would not have picked this date for our grandson’s birthday, but God did. Just as God said in Joel 2:25, “I will restore the years that the locust has eaten“, He could do for us with the date and time. Matthew cannot be replaced. We will miss him until the day we see him again on heaven’s shore, but God can bring joy again, a reason to get up on December 11th, to celebrate again, and to even restore those lost years, with remembering all God did to uphold us through the years, to keep our family and marriage together. And so on December 11th we have learned even more of the “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15) because “to everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: time to be born and a time to die.” (Ecclesiates 3:1,2)
I am thankful the grief of missing Matthew hit days before. As I told my friend, there will always be that gray cloud on the 11th, but there’s more blue sky showing and the gray cloud is not right over our heads. The sun is poking through because of the Son. I can’t help but think Matthew knows we have a reason to celebrate. He rejoices in God’s presence. On December 11th, I am thankful for two lives – Matthew’s life in heaven, to know without a doubt he is there with Jesus and for this precious one year old. I cannot rejoice Matthew died. His death did not steal all our joy and Satan did not win, but because of God’s son’s death and ressurection, Matthew lives in heaven and THAT I can rejoice over! And now to celebrate here on Earth, our youngest grandson’s bright cheery smiles and sweet cuddles. God gave our family an amazing gift for this day to carry us through many years ahead. Our other grandson also has Matthew as his middle name. God is good – always.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights . . . ” (James 1:17)
If you do not know Matthew’s story, please read it and talk with your children. His death may save your child’s lives.