Today marks one year since Curt and I met, held, and had to give our youngest child back to the Lord. Happy 1st Birthday to our Josiah!
Recently I was asked if I ever think of Josiah in Heaven...if I envision him growing and developing while there, or do I think he stays a newborn baby. Interesting. I have never given thought to that, and I don't think there's a clear answer. But regardless of what he might be like, I know he's healed, healthy, and having the most awesome birthday party today.
I sit back now, though, and just wonder how the heck a year - an entire 365 days - seemed to fly by right before my eyes. The past year has been full of tears, conversations, get-aways, birthdays, anniversaries, projects, get-togethers, holidays...but this day one year ago is still so vivid and clear to me, just as if it were yesterday. (And if you know me well and know my inability to remember things from my childhood or from even just last week, that's saying a lot.) I hope and pray that January 27, 2010 remains a clear memory!
This past year has also had lots of questions for God, as well as growth. The first few months after Josiah's birth and death were full of tears, anxiety, anger, faith issues...all that, I believe, are a normal part of this whole grief process that we all, at some point, will experience. Even though I feel like I haven't given the proper amount of time to self-reflection, I still have learned a lot about myself, how I cope, how I handle stress. Some of it is preeety ugly, and God has shown me ways in which I need to change, both outward and inward. It's His way of molding and shaping, right?
I have also learned a whole lot about how God wants us to love Him and to love others. (Note: I think it no coincidence that our church small group started reading and studying the book "Crazy Love" [by Francis Chan] the same month that Josiah died.) Since last January, we have been cared for by SO many people: church friends and others in our church who we didn't know very well, our families (both immediate and extended), our wonderful small group (they are practically family to us), neighbors who hadn't known us very long, friends from childhood and friends from college, even strangers. Meals, cards, phone calls, thoughts and prayers...the ways that people showed their love and support is innumerable. It has truly been amazing to see the love that has been poured out to us, and "thank you" was and is never enough to show our gratitude!
THIS is exactly what we are called to do: to care for and love on others, no matter who they are, no matter where they live, no matter what they do or have done, no matter how much you do or do not know them. I'm trying so hard to cultivate and grow this desire in me to love as Jesus did in all areas of my life, as hard as it seems. I've learned many things over the past year through Josiah's life and death, (as my friend Kara put it, probably more than I would have learned through his life!), and if God just wants to use me to 1) share Josiah's story and bring encouragement, and 2) care for the hurting around me, then so be it. Oh, these life lessons!
I still think about Josiah multiple times each day and miss him a whole heck of a lot. It's hard not to think about what he would be doing if he were here. Walking or still learning how? Saying things? Getting wrestled and pounced on by his big brother? Getting shoved into a princess dress-up dress by his big sister? Having his food stolen by the dog? Probably. We.miss.him.terribly. Can't ever say that enough. Today we are shedding tears, holding close his memory, celebrating his first awesome year in Heaven, and continuing to learn and grow through the heartache.