Wednesday, August 1, 2012

To Samuel on His 3rd Birthday

Dear Samuel,

Since I write a letter to each of my children on his or her birthday every year, I am continuing the tradition with you, too.  Caleb, Joel, and Anna each have a journal of their own.  In many ways, your journal is this blog, so it seems fitting to write your letter here.

Happy 3rd Birthday, sweet boy!  I don't know how it can be true that three years have passed since I first set eyes on your perfect face.  I know every parent is totally biased toward their children, but I still believe you were the most beautiful baby these eyes have ever seen.  You were perfect in every way.  Tiny features, smooth skin, rounded head.  Your beauty took me by surprise, and I couldn't stop marveling at it.  Your Great Aunt Colleen tells me how she still daydreams about seeing you for the first time and how stunningly beautiful you were in the hospital's NICU.  All of us just wanted to scoop you up and snuggle you close and shower you with kisses, but we contented ourselves with staring at you instead and remarking on your perfection.

So much more than your outward beauty was perfect.  You were perfectly made by God.  Perfectly knit together.  Not one single mistake did God make.  He made your heart and your lungs just as He intended, and I don't resent that one bit.  I don't wish He had made a different you.  I wanted you -- just as you were, and I will always want only the you He gave me.  He made your heart to be flawed by human standards, but, Samuel, you had God's heart, which is much of the reason we named you Samuel.  It means "asked of God" and "God's heart," and both were so true of you.  Your heart, which confounded the doctors, pointed straight to your Creator.  And your life, brief as it was, drew people to Jesus.  It drew me to Jesus in new and profound ways.  Your heart that was a mystery to humans was no mystery to the One who made it; it worked just as God intended: it made God's name great.  And I am so thankful.

Though I wish I could write you a letter like the ones I write your brothers and sister -- filled with stories about you, the funny things you say, your deep questions, the ways in which you are changing, and the things I hope you learn as you grow up -- I rest peacefully knowing that someday I will know you intimately like I know Caleb, Joel, and Anna.  And you already know everything that matters.  You've seen Jesus face-to-face, and you know Truth, Love, Joy, Goodness, Grace, Mercy, Wisdom, and Peace.  Instead of hoping I can teach you something about our good God, I know there is so much (infinitely much?) that you can someday teach me.  And I can't wait to be your pupil (as in many ways I already am.  You've taught me so much, sweet boy.)  Will you show me Heaven when I get there?  Will you be there to greet me when I arrive?  Will you take me to Jesus and introduce your momma to her Creator?  Will you share in that moment of awesome wonder with me?  I hope so.  I badly hope so.

Though your birthday is never what this momma would have dreamed up, I am so grateful for this day to celebrate your birth.  I love spending a day praising God that YOU came into this world and changed our lives forever.  I love that I get a chance to tell the world (well, my little world, anyway) how happy I am that you are my son, that God chose US to be your family, and that we have the privilege of being refined by your life.  I consider us so incomparably honored to have been chosen as your momma, dadda, and siblings.  I'll probably never know why God bestowed the blessing of you on us of all people, but I will always, always be thankful beyond words.

As time has gone by and you being in Heaven is a "normal" part of our lives, I realize more and more that going straight to Heaven isn't such a bad thing.  I remember being taken aback and slightly offended the first time I heard this idea, but it rings true despite the initial harshness of it.  There are worse things than going straight to Jesus' presence and skipping all the trials and tribulations of this life.  Who knows what all you've been spared.  And though I would have loved to walk by your side in whatever trials you faced, I am genuinely happy for you to already be in the perfect presence of God.  I would never want to take that amazing gift away from you.

I know there is no gift I could possibly give you for your birthday that you don't already have; you lack for nothing.  But if I could, I would send you my kisses and hugs and cuddles, and I would ask Jesus to give them to you Himself, and they would be a tiny cherry on top of the icecream sundae that is your whole life -- every single moment of it is already full to the brim of unchanging joy, fullness, love, and life.  You don't need any more -- in fact, you probably couldn't even hold any more.  But sending my love to you would make me feel better and more whole and might ease the ache in my soul that I have grown to accept as part of who I am and always will be in this life.  But maybe love never reaches capacity in Heaven, so there is room for my tiny cherry of love in your heart.  I think I will ask God to give it to you, afterall.

Samuel, as I sit here with tears pouring down my face, there is really one thing I want you to know: I love you.  I always will.  And I will always, always, always be thankful that you were born my son on August 1st, 2009.  Happy Birthday, Samuel Erik Apinis!  Your momma is crazy about you.

I love you to the end of the numbers.

Love, Momma


  1. Oh Kathryn - thank you for sharing this. Thank you for sharing Samuel's life with us. Thank you for sharing your struggles with us. Samuel's brief life profoundly affected my faith (for the better!) and your words written after he died, that God IS good, and that you would now allow God, who didn't heal Samuel's heart, to now heal yours - those words are burned on my heart. Those words draw me closer to God during my hard times. Thank you.

    Happy Birthday little Samuel. Thank you for sharing your beautiful life with me.

  2. i always think of your sweet family & precious samuel on this day! thank you for continuing to share your heart here, kathryn. & by doing so, continuing to spread the light of Christ through Samuel's life & death. Samuel STILL impacts my heart for Christ. :-) love to you & yours today.

  3. Oh, Kathryn...I'm crying and praising God for Samuel!

  4. This is so beautiful. I am blessed to know you and thankful for the role Samuel plays in making you who you are. We were driving home from camp today and the sunset was just beautiful. I couldnt stop thinking of you guys and your sweet Samuel and just praising Jesus that everything He creates is so beautiful and perfect and meaningful, if we just take the time to notice. I'm grateful to Samuel and Caden for helping us NOTICE. Love you friend!

  5. Samuel's life + your words = my life forever changed

    So grateful for him and you and your sweet family. You have drawn so many of us closer to God. Happy birthday, Samuel.

  6. As usual, Kathryn, you brought tears to my eyes, especially when you asked Samuel if he would take you to meet Jesus. There is no doubt in my mind that he will. When you open your eyes a tall, strong, young man will be there to greet you with a hug that will last forever and then he will take you by the hand and bring you face to face with your Lord and Savior. He will watch as you and Jesus embrace and Jesus whispers to you "Welcome home!"