“This is why it’s hard to wake up.”
Will’s words struck me as I sit here trying to capture the chaos of thoughts that have been running through my head since getting up this morning.
Seventeen months ago today–a Sunday, the 25th–I woke to my lifeless child in my arms. This morning–another Sunday the 25th–I woke to a text from my friend asking that we pray for her boy who’d just been in a car accident and was unconscious. Hours later, I got a call from a mutual friend saying that her boy hadn’t made it.
A year-and-a-half later and I still have a hate-filled relationship with waking up and facing another day.
As I got ready to go see my friend, I picked up these shoes. My mom had brought them to me the week before I gave birth to Oliver and they were some of the only ones that fit well at that point, so I wore them to the hospital. I vividly remember a nurse walking into our room minutes after they’d rushed Oliver to the NICU and asking us to follow her to watch the doctors work on him. I quickly slipped on these fun, brightly-colored Converses. The irony of these life-filled shoes being the ones to always greet death is something I find comfort in. I’m familiar with not wearing black to say goodbye. It’s a hopeful thing–to know that this goodbye isn’t forever.
I know this day and it’s events aren’t about me, but this journal entry is the inner wrestling that I’m facing today. Elijah wasn’t my kid. But in a very real way, this is the closest that death has struck home again since we lost Oliver. Things that I thought I’d gotten past, I haven’t. It’s too eerily similar.
The first question that my friend asked me when we got to see her today was “Why?” That’s a question I still don’t know the answer to. I don’t think that we were meant to know the answer to that on this side of eternity.
I still want to know why. Not some calculable human numbers or estimates of why my boy died, but why God hasn’t changed his methods. Is he some child-snatcher in the sky? Does he always have to take a little boy in order to wake up the people around that child’s parents?
As Christmas comes again, I’m reminded that the greatest love story ever told came in the form of a baby boy…whose Father gave him up that everyone would know how much He cared for them, the very people who had rioted, cheered–and ultimately–killed his boy. That love story hasn’t changed.
Nothing about God has changed today. He is no less good, no less tender-hearted, no less merciful today than he was yesterday. But in situations like this, we come to know him in a whole new way, a way that challenges everything we thought we knew about him before heart-crushing pain struck. I don’t say this flippantly, but out of experiencing those attributes in a way that was ten times deeper than I ever had before tragedy struck.
If you’re a praying person, please lift up my friend and her family before the Lord. And if you’re not a praying person, know that I’m praying that this will strike a chord with you and that you will be broken in order to be rebuilt by the only One who can make life out of death.
Put on your lively goodbye shoes and take heart in knowing that today is not forever. Forever is a life-filled place, and we have so many reunions that await.
[Joy, for the band]