Thursday, April 23, 2015

Dear Matt,

Dear Matt,

Your 20th birthday is next week. I don't understand why some days are so much harder than others, but today is one of them. I can't stop the tears, and my heart hurts. I ache. I ache to see you, to hear your quiet, deep voice, to see you saunter into the kitchen, to hear you tease your siblings. I have missed so much of your life in these past three and a half years. And it's hard. It's so hard.

Your birthday has been weighing heavily on my heart since March. Yes, since March. Many people don't get it, why I would already be thinking about your birthday in March when your birthday isn't until May. The days and months before significant dates are, as they say, the hardest. Oftentimes (and understandably), it seems the only people who remember this are the bereaved. It makes for a lonely journey at times like these. Likewise, the more time that goes by, the less understanding one receives.

Your 20th birthday. It's just so significant to me, and I guess that's why it's hit me so hard. You'd no longer be a teenager, but officially a full-fledged adult. (Your 21st birthday will be significant, too, but like every birthday, each one is different and means something a little different.) I grieve because you are not here. I grieve because we, your family, do not get to celebrate it with you. I grieve for your sisters and brothers who have missed so much of you, as well. I grieve because they have missed a relationship with their big brother. I grieve because your youngest brother was too little when you left to remember you or even have memories of you to cherish. (Though we talk about you almost every day and keep the photo albums out.)

Your birthday is approaching, Matt, and each passing day feels like a freight train car being rolled over my heart. It just keeps coming, and I can't avoid it. I've had to remind myself of much truth the past several weeks, as it is air for my lungs. Deep breaths of truth. Truth to sustain and breath life into dry and weary bones. The truth is that you are alive. The truth is that you don't belong here, we belong there and someday, God will fulfill the plan that He began before the world began.

My heart aches, and I am finding it hard to give thanks, but give thanks I will. I will give thanks because I do not grieve without hope. I give thanks because God is good. I give thanks because He does not leave us alone. I give thanks because God is a God of redemption. He will redeem my sorrow and every single tear I have cried. He will redeem the years the locusts have eaten. (Joel 2:25) He will redeem what death took away, for death is not eternal, but God is eternal. I will choose to believe even though I do not see or understand God's plan. I will trust in Him and believe that beautiful things are happening.

 Lyrics to "Beautiful Things"

I have some wonderful plans for your birthday, Matt. I hope you like them. Do you remember the book "Love You Forever" that I used to read to you? :) I'll be singing this part of the book on your birthday: (Yep, even if it's your 20th!)
“I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
as long as I’m living
my baby you’ll be.”

I love you, son.
Love, Mom