charlie's song


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Charlie’s First Birthday

Today, is Charlie’s birthday.

The very last, in a very long year of all of the “Firsts.”

It also happens to be the day Baby Zeller would have been due.  And…the week we would have found out if the the Newest Baby Zeller was a baby boy or a little girl.  Yeah, I know. What are the chances that the storm of this much pain could hit all at once?

And tomorrow, to add insult to deep injury…is the 4th birthday of our sweet Freddo.

I wouldn’t have chosen that in ten billion years.

But then again, I wouldn’t have chosen any of this.

If my life were truly my own, if I could write the story and have my wonderful plan for my life…I wouldn’t be sitting here today broken and weeping as I write these words to you.

I would be baking a smash cake right now.  I would be planning a double “Car’s” birthday party for my sweet boys- the first in a lifetime of double birthdays for them.  I would be ironing the little black suit with the dapper red tie that Freddo once wore, and charging the camera battery for Charlie’s first Birthday Photo Shoot.

But most of all…I would be loving him.  I would be holding him.  I would be kissing his sweet baby cheeks.  I would be ruffling his nut brown hair.  I would be whispering, “Please stay little forever.”  I would be celebrating.  Celebrating the millions of things I loved learning about him in our first precious year together.

That is what I would have chosen and wanted. That is what I will spend the rest of my life missing and grieving the loss of.  That is the story that will never, ever happen. And there is a profound permanence to death that I am convinced a heart can never, ever recover from.

And if I couldn’t have that story…I would have chosen to be in the hospital today, celebrating Charlie’s life there as we held his sweet baby sibling in arms that have ached for so long with the weight of empty.

But that’s not our life either.

With empty arms and broken hearts that really have no reason to hope for another living child, we grieve the loss of that excruciatingly adorable baby boy with Emma’s toes, Freddo’s cheeks, and Sophie’s nose.

I can’t tell you if his favorite song is “Twinkle, Twinkle” or “You Are My Sunshine.”  I can’t tell you if his first word was “Ball” or “Mama.”  I can’t tell you how unspeakably wonderful these last 365 days were…because they weren’t.  They were the 365 most excruciating 24-hour increments we have ever had to live through.

Birthday’s are funny things.  Sometimes it feels a little arbitrary that we celebrate someone on that exact day, just because the earth has officially orbited all the way around the sun.  But I know that what we are really celebrating through birthdays…is the life.  All of the ways that another person’s existence has deeply, profoundly, and eternally impacted our own.

And when I focus on that…I know immediately what my sweet baby boy’s life has done.

Since this blog is about the song Charlie’s life has sung…today, I want to share a song.  It’s a love song, and not what I would have expected to remind me of him, but even now, one full rotation around the sun later…it’s the song that most reminds me of the 5 lb, 10 oz gift of perfection that we never got to open and love. And so, it has become to me…Charlie’s song.

The song is “My, My Love” by Joshua Radin.  I can’t wait to someday, finally look into Charlie’s beautiful eyes for the first time, and sing this song to him.

The song gets you right from the start…

“So many moons, have come and gone.  All alone.”

365 to be exact.  Moons.  Half moons.  Crescent moons.  All sorts of moons.  All sorts of sunrises and sunsets.  All sorts of moments at the beach…and your chubby hands were not in the sand beside ours.   All sorts of funny family moments filling laughter into the very corners of our house…and your sweet voice was not in the laughter.   All sorts of moments that remind me of you…an entire year of missing you at every moment of every day…has come and gone.  And now, even all those long moons later, I ache with longing for you.

And at the end of it all, all I feel that I can truly celebrate with integrity is that I have actually survived 365 days I did not want to live.

A year ago today, on the morning I gave birth to Charlie and first laid eyes on the tiny face of the little person I had so desperately longed for a lifetime with, I literally thought, “I cannot do this.  I am not going to make it through a life filled with this much sorrow.  I am Just. Not. Going. To. Make. It.”  

But we did.  Somehow, entirely by the grace of God, we made it.  And if there’s one thing my sweet boy has taught me, it’s this:

The only thing that matters…is the end.

And in the end…I get a life with him.  The baby I held in my arms and washed with my tears.  The baby I was forced to lay down on a cold white table in a funeral home and literally walk away from.  The baby whose precious frame is buried in the dark January ground we’ll have to visit today if we want to feel closer to even a little part of him.

That baby boy who has changed me forever.  Someday, I get him.

I know this.  And this precious black and white truth is all I have in the midst a world that has been overrun with the dark gray of uncertain.   I am uncertain about almost everything right now, but this morning I was reminded of the one Bible verse God brought to my mind as I lay on that hospital bed exactly 365 mornings ago.

“We have this hope as an anchor for our soul.”

In that moment of the deepest  devastation of our lives, the words “Hope” and “Anchor” meant the absolute world to us, because I felt desperate, and I mean life and death desperate, in need of both.  The hope of the promise that the God who has made these promises, “cannot lie.”  And that that God has given us hope because of who Jesus is and what He has made possible that is yet to come.  Redemption. Heaven. Wholeness.  Things promised that mean the world to you, when in one single heartbeat of time, your entire universe is shattered.  When all of your dreams are suddenly over, and you know that for the rest of your life there is nothing else left to hope in that actually matters…Heaven deeply matters.  Because there was no other hope.

There was no hope for taking Charlie home with us.  His heart had stopped beating, and there was absolutely nothing I could do to make it start beating again.  And here was no hope for our “old life” of happiness.  A shadow had fallen, that would never be lifted because of the permanent nature of death. But those words from Hebrews 6, felt like a solid, weighty anchor were pushing down my broken, storm-beaten soul.  And I felt a little less shaken, less broken, less hopeless…knowing what is yet to come.

Because in the end, it is not the details of my story that really matter…it’s the details of God’s.

And I’ve read the end of God’s story, and in the end…I get him.

In the end, I get 10,000 years with my baby boy, and then some.  In the end I get an eternity of “Firsts” together that are still to come.  First hello’s.  First kisses.  First knowing one another and basking in the beauty of how God made that precious soul I never got to live life with.  All the firsts…are still to come.  And it really does give hope knowing that in the end…I get him.

And, in the end…I also get Him.  In the end, I get the promise of hours at the feet of Jesus, hours spent together in close conversation just like Edmund and Aslan.  Hours spent searching His heart and finally someday, maybe just maybe, understanding why He wrote the story just like this.   And I desperately long for those.  Because now, still, even 365 days later…I feel deeply broken, confused, and abandoned.  And I have no choice but to wait for those hours.  Hours of getting to know Him in ways that I simply cannot know Him while on this desperately broken earth.

As I sit here today and plan a first birthday party for a birthday boy who will never get to come, there is just so very much we’re forced to take by faith alone.  Faith in the coming “Firsts.”   Faith in the God who chose that “To wait, I was told.”  Faith in the God who has author’s rights to every story He has ever written.

Because if I could write the story…I would never have chosen this.

I would have written Charlie’s smile and words and twinkling baby eyes into every line of every page of my entire life book.  I simply, would not have written this one.  Ever.

But God chose this.  And someday, some precious, not so far off day, this life will finally be over.  And I will finally be with him.  And that promise has carried us this far.  The promise of an end.  The promise of that end.  The promise of such a good endhas taken us through every one of those lonely, aching moons.

My sweet Charlie James…I have been without you too long.  365 days too long.  But my life will never, ever be the same because your life, and loving you…has changed me for forever. Nothing has more deeply impacted my life, than not getting to keep you.  And if missing were loving…oh how much I love you.  I can’t wait to someday sit down beside you, and love you and love you and love you.  Over and over again.

And even though I would never have written this story for our lives…I am so very glad you came along.  Happy Birthday my Charlie love.  I have no idea what your birthday party will be like today in heaven.  But you are deeply missed and loved here on earth.

You have my heart forever, and to me you will always belong…

My, my love
I’ve been without you too long
My, my love
I’ve been running too fast to belong to anyone
But then you came along

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So many moons have come and gone all alone
I heard this song inside me
To wait, I was told
But now I found, a different sound
I hear when you’re around me
It’s something new, because of you

I hope I hear it forever

My, my love
I’ve been without you too long
My, my love
I’ve been running too fast to belong to anyone
But then you came along

When first I laid eyes upon your face
This song replaced all the others I have written
It’s all brand new because of you
Feels like I’ve known you forever

My, my love
I’ve been without you too long
My, my love
I’ve been running too fast to belong to anyone
But then you came along

You warm me like sunshine
You cool me like summer rain
Just let me sit down beside you
Over and over again

My, my love
I’ve been without you too long
My, my love
I’ve been running too fast to belong to anyone
But then you came along