Monday, August 1, 2016

To Samuel on His 7th Birthday

Dear sweet, wonderful Samuel,

Happy 7th Birthday, my love.  Oh, how I love you.  I think of you, and I smile...and well up with tears at the same time.  There is so much joy in my heart that you were born, that you are mine, that I get to call you son.  But there is also sorrow that I don't know you as a 7 year old boy -- that I don't know your likes and dislikes, how you'd choose to spend your birthday, what your relationships with your siblings would be like, how you'd shape and change our family dynamics, how you'd feel about school starting back up in a mere 3 days.  There is an especial sorrow that I don't know what you'd look like at 7.  Would you have brown eyes like Caleb, Anna, and Eliza, or would you have the twinkle of Joel's hazel?  Or maybe, just maybe, you'd be our one child with your dad's beautiful green eyes.  Would you have a smattering of freckles across your nose and cheeks like your brothers?  Would your hair be bleached blond by the summer sun?  Would you tan deep brown like Caleb or be more fair like Joel?  Would you be lean and lanky like your sisters and Caleb or more solidly built like Joel?  What would you feel like in my arms in a huge birthday embrace?  Would you be soft and snuggly or all sharp angles and bones?  I long for a picture of you frolicking about Heaven, for some idea of your face and shape, some hint of how it would be to hold you and gaze at you on your birthday.  I want to know you, Samuel, and my heart hurts that I have to wait for eternity to do that.  But eternity is coming, and someday I will know you.  This gives my heart hope and stills its clamoring.  Someday will come.

I woke this morning to my stomach turning with nerves and grief and longing.  I reluctantly climbed out of bed and went for a run, choosing to listen to David Crowder, who I haven't listened to in a while, but this morning I knew I needed Truth.  I ruminated on something John Woodall, who has lost two grand babies, texted me and your dad this morning -- "with great hope and grace for today."  Those words anchored me as I ran: Hope for that coming someday and Grace for this very today.  I thought about last night when I snuggled in bed with your littlest sister, Eliza, and told her the truths we often tell your siblings -- that she is special, valuable, important, precious, lovable, lovely, worthy, wonderful, a blessing, a healer, a delight, and a joy.  As I listed those truths to her, she whispered each one along with me, which moved my heart in deep ways, hearing her internalize what your dad and I pray will be foundational for our children.  And I realized that you are living in the fullness of those truths in Heaven.  You are living them in completion, for you are living in the presence of the perfect One who made you perfectly.  You know without any doubt that you are special, valuable, important, precious, lovable, lovely, worthy, wonderful, a blessing, a healer, a delight, and a joy.  Those truths are complete in you, and that made me smile as my feet drummed on the pavement.  By the time I made it back home, my heart was peaceful, and my joy in this day -- your birthday -- was welling up.

Since then it's been a day with smiles and laughter: a trip to the library (which Anna declared you probably would not have liked, but I said, "Who knows?  Maybe Samuel would love the library." She nodded and said, "Like Caleb."), stopping by our old elementary (we were rezoned to a brand new school) to give hugs to teachers, and then swimming and a picnic lunch at the neighborhood pool with very dear friends (something we all think you would have liked).  Tonight we'll write our letters to you on balloons and eat birthday cake.

On Friday we went to Egleston for our annual trip.  We delivered 16 dozen cookies and a note thanking the doctors, nurses, RTS, and staff who work in the CICU.  It was the very first year where we didn't see anyone we knew from our time there with you, but we're still glad we went.  It is always good to remember, to keep our connection to you, to give your siblings something tangible to link to you, and, maybe most of all, to choose thanks -- to position our hearts in a posture of gratitude.  For we are so very thankful for you and for those who cared for you during your brief life.

It is easy to celebrate that you were born, dear Samuel.  I would never wish away your presence in our lives or your part in our family.  You belong in our family forever, and I'm so very glad that's true.  You will always be my son, and I will always be "Samuel's mom."  It's one of my most cherished titles.  I love you, little boy.  And I miss you more than words could ever express.  Happy Birthday, baby.  Someday I'll have eternity to catch up on all those hugs I'm missing out on.  Get ready, little man!  'Cause these arms won't be letting go for a loooooooooooooooooooooooooooong time.  I love you, and I always will!

Love, Mom