Today is my birthday. 32 years of life. It is also, more importantly, the one month anniversary of Charlie’s birthday. 300 days of life. This is the first of what will be many anniversaries of the passing of time in a life without our sweet boy. Its only 9 am and it’s already been a very hard day. Some days I just miss him so much I’m not sure I’m going to make it. But it makes me feel better to be able to share what I am learning from my sweet baby boy. It reminds me that Charlie’s life, while so much shorter in days than I would have liked…still had tremendous weight.
Yesterday I was reading some info that the hospital gave us and these words were on the front page…
“The distance between joy and sorrow can be measure by a heartbeat.”
These words are so very true for our lives. One moment we were three weeks out, joyfully nesting, praying, celebrating and anticipating his coming. And one heartbeat later…a lifetime of heartache. A name we would never get to call out. Eyes we would never see. A heart we would never get to know and delight in as he grew and changed. So very much heartache happened in one solitary heartbeat. Sometimes I feel angry and almost like we were “set up” for this great fall. In those moments my heart cries out, “God, why did you give us this precious gift just to take him away!” I know God knows how much we are hurting. I know God weeps with us as we weep. And even though it hurts so much more that we had named him and loved him and talked about him every single day of his short 300 days…I am so glad that we had chosen to fully celebrate Charlie’s coming.
Years ago when we first got pregnant with Emma I was wondering how soon we should tell everyone about this precious new life growing inside me. I asked a friend of mine about this who had had several miscarriages, and she gave me some very wise advice. She said, “I always chose to fully celebrate my pregnancies and to share about this new life with everyone right away, because I really believe EVERY life is worth celebrating. And if you don’t celebrate this life right away…the only thing you may ever get to do for them is grieve.” And that’s how I feel about our baby boy. We had eight incredible months of celebrating his life, and we’ve had one month of grieving. As these months continue to go by we will soon have far more months of grieving his life, than we had months of celebrating. Unless. Unless we chose to find ways to continue to celebrate his life even as we grieve.
And so today, I am going to thank Jesus for the incredible gift He gave me during my 32nd year of life. 300 unforgettable days of being Charlie’s mommy and having the joy of his life alive inside of me. Of celebrating his little body’s growth as he continued to push out the boundaries of my belly. Of watching on the ultrasound screens as God continued to knit and weave him in the tiny space where he lived below my heartbeat. Of praying for him and bringing to the Lord all the dreams we had for his life. Of finding out he was a boy and cheering super loud as a family in a little ultrasound room at San Luis Diagnostics. Of eating blue ice cream and telling everyone in the world that we were “Screaming for JOY and having a BOY!” And of holding him in my arms on the saddest, hardest, and most bittersweet day of my life. Charlie’s life was the very best gift of my 32 year of life. It was so very short that Charlie’s entire life on earth fit within an entire year of mine. But absolutely life-altering and unforgettable just the same.
I remember reading one time that Jim Elliot had said,
“Consume my life, my God, for it is Thine. I seek not a long life, but a full one, like you, Lord Jesus.”
As I read these words the first time in college I remember thinking, “Actually God, I’d like to have both a full one and a long one if You please.” But I think I had missed the point entirely. Today, as I continue my life that seems really long compared to my baby boy’s, I praise God in the midst of the pain for the joy of knowing that Charlie really did have a life that reflected these things…
Consume my life, my God… Like little Samuel, our precious Charlie really was “given to the Lord for his whole life.”
For it is Thine… Nothing has ever taught me more clearly that our lives are God’s and not our own…than Charlie’s.
Not a long life, but a full one… If our greatest calling and purpose in life is to know the Lord Jesus and make Him known to others, I would say that my sweet baby boy has fully lived out his calling. Perfectly. My baby knows Jesus today. He knows Him deeply in ways I haven’t even begun to experience Him yet this side of glory. And Charlie’s life is making Jesus known to me more and more each day. What a wonderful birthday gift from my sweet baby boy.
I love you Charlie James. Thank you for giving great meaning and purpose to my 32nd year of life, and for all the years of life yet allotted to me. And thank you for pointing my heart to Jesus and giving me a greater longing than ever before to have not a long life, but a full one… just like yours.