Today marks what would have been my angel baby's 8th birthday. I've been contemplating, and perhaps, even dreading this day. Although it doesn't change anything to focus on "what if's," on days like today, I just can't help it. I begin to imagine all the "what if's." What if John was still here with us? What would our family be like? What would he be like? Would we have been preparing for his baptism this morning, instead of visiting his grave? What if...
When I reflect on our experience with John, I feel grateful that I'm able to now obtain a sense of peace. There were many times, especially at the beginning, I wasn't sure I would ever feel that again. With peace, however, there's also still those feelings of sorrow and grief. I don't expect that I'll ever be free from that, and that is alright. I know my heart will always ache for my little boy. There are times that still catch me off guard. The mention of his name sends those familiar sensations, my chest tightens, tears sting my eyes, and I feel like I cannot catch my breath. I see his tiny face in my mind, and I think, "what if..."
Along with a sense of peace, I can also truly say that in some ways I find I'm grateful for my experience with John. I certainly wish he was here, and going through the grief was the most difficult thing I've ever done, but I recognize that the experience shaped and helped me, and many others, grow in ways that I don't think I would have otherwise been able. The tender mercies that God granted to us during such a difficult time were sweet and undeniable. The family support and love that was extended to us demonstrated what incredible people I have in my life.
There have been times that I have felt John's presence in my life. There are also incredibly sweet moments when I've witnessed that presence in the lives of my children, especially Adell. Despite never knowing her brother, she has been able to forge a unique and very real relationship with John. Those sweet moments, most too sacred to share, reaffirm my belief that John really is part of our Eternal family. He is still here, and is as much a part of our family as anything. He touches our lives in unexpected ways, and watches as we strive to grow and progress.
Today, I indulge in my "what if" scenarios. As a mother, I can't help but grief for those lost possibilities, but as I reflect on the Lord's tender mercies, and I remember that my little angel baby is here in our lives, I see can see past the "what if's" and look forward to the "what's coming."