Archive | May 2016

“Etched in Stone”

More than 58,000 names

As of 05/2015, there are 58,307 names. (wikipedia)

“I’ll also give a clear, smooth stone inscribed with your new name . . .” Revelation 2:17b

It is awesome and sobering to walk the length of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, DC. I had wanted to visit the memorial for a long time. A member of my family died in the Vietnam War. I found him among the 58,307 brave, fallen heroes. Running my hand over his name, etched in the smooth granite surface, it gave me a sickening feeling to think about the awful price his death extracted from his parents, sibling, and others who loved him. Yet, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride that my cousin was willing to fight, and give his life if necessary, to defend his homeland.

Recently while rifling through boxes of old greeting cards, I came across a sweet one. On the front of this slightly yellowed card, was a sketch of a tiny baby, but it was the words on the inside, that made it so special. As I read my handwriting, I was instantly transported back to an awesome time; the beginning of my motherhood.

In my hands, once again, I held the birth announcement for our first child, a baby boy. On the card I had written the details we parents couldn’t wait to tell family and friends. Naturally they wanted to know the time of his birth, how much he weighed, and how many inches in length from the top of his head to his toes, and we eagerly shared it!

My, how time has changed everything. I can’t pull that card out now and tease him a little, reminding him how tiny and wrinkled he was when he was brand new. I can’t tell him, once again, how it felt to hold him for the first time. So many wonderful firsts to remember. So many memories to treasure, especially now that suicide has robbed me of his life.

I haven’t written to my precious firstborn lately. I think I will write an update on the backside of this card. Of course it won’t all fit, but we will pretend that it does. You don’t mind if I share it with you, do you?

“My Sweet Son, I loved picking out your name before you were born. I felt so proud the first time I wrote your name on this little card which I quickly mailed to family and friends, so they could share in our joy. It didn’t seem real that you were ours . . . even after all the pain to bring you into the world. Tiny and sweet, you were a precious bundle sent straight from heaven and into our waiting arms.

“How can it be that the only way I see your name from now on is on your marker? So cold. Unfeeling. Impersonal. So final is your resting place. Etched in bronze is the day you were born, and the day you died. How can it be that all we have left of you is in bronze? How can it be that all we have left to remind us that you once lived is a dash? How can a dash represent your life? So unfair! The ache in my heart reminds me that the time you had on this earth was much too short. The raised bronze letters, that spell your name, are more durable than a baby card, but they don’t give me joy. I look down at your name, your beautiful name . . . and the forever river of tears begins to flow.

“Your sleep will be sweet, my precious son, until we meet again (Prov. 3:24). Until then, I write to honor your life and your name. I write to encourage others who grieve. I write to inspire hope when all seems hopeless. I write to remind all of us that there is a higher power larger than ourselves. This higher power, on whom my hope is centered, is Jesus Christ, the Living Hope. Because He lives, we have eternity to look forward to. Because He lives, life is more than dates and dashes. Because He lives, we will have new life without end. My son, no more will your name be etched in stone, bronze, or marble. No more will you need to be etched in my heart . . . when at last I see your beautiful face.”

Love you forever,

Mom

“I’ll also give a clear, smooth stone inscribed with your new name . . .” Revelation 2:17b

Verses shared: The Message Bible (MSG), New International Version (NIV)

 

 
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This entry was posted on May 20, 2016. 4 Comments

Almost . . .

file000533175307- Mother & child

“I wuv you, Mommy”

I’m over the hill . . . and picking up speed. I recently had another birthday. They seem to come around faster and faster the older we get, do they not? In addition to my birthday, the calendar reminds me of another celebration we soon face ~ Mother’s Day. Perhaps you, too, have a hard time with this holiday if you mourn the loss of a precious child. If you have other children at home, they probably still want to celebrate the day. Bless them. I know it’s hard. For me personally, it’s a day I would just as soon ignore.

The May holiday for mothers reminds me of a story. May I share it with you, for no other reason than to, perhaps, coax a smile to our often tearful faces? Please note. This was not funny at the time. Now, I can smile when I think of it. I smile because it is among my treasure of memories ~ back in a time when I had two boys, not one. Back to a time of innocence, where suicide was an unfamiliar word. Sadly, too many of you know the truth of these words.

Instead of the usual incidents occurring when my children were young and underfoot, this story took place when they had “suddenly and without warning” sprouted into teenagers. Remember those years? Gone were the simple, sweet days of childhood. Also gone were the days when I could get my boys to help with household chores. It seemed as soon as there was work to be done, they magically became escape artists. Their lives were consumed with activities perceived more important than what I had in mind, and out the door they’d go. About the same time, they became legal to drive and had jobs after school. I was not likely to see them until evening. Factor in holidays and special events . . . other than their own birthdays . . . and they might be “too busy” to buy a card in celebration, or, bare bones, share good wishes, if not given a strong hint to do so.

Many a year, come the month of May, I was left to wonder: will this be the year one of my men forget? Such was the case this particular Mother’s Day. Down to the wire, per usual, greeting cards were slow to materialize. At the last minute, my younger son, with a sheepish grin on his face, swooped in with a card and tossed it within my reach. I was both relieved and touched, until I opened the card . . . and read this message inside: “You are almost like a mother to me. “What??!! Almost?? What on earth do you mean by “ALMOST like a mother to me”?? I could have smacked him upside the head in an attempt to knock some sense into him!

From distant memory, his explanation went something like this: “Well, uh, there weren’t any good ones left to choose from, and uh, I knew you’d be upset if I didn’t, uh give you something . . . sorry.” It wasn’t terribly funny then, nor was I very understanding of his plight, but now, it has become a funny moment in my memory. I shake my head. It is a reminder that kids, of all ages, exceed our expectations, both pleasurable and not so pleasurable.

Switching gears, I can think of one example where “almost” would be a wonderful relief. Those of us on a grief journey from the loss of a beloved child to suicide, or any other cause, would welcome an “almost”. For suicide an “almost” would mean the attempt had failed. Our child would be given another chance at life.

“Almost” provides relief. Completed does not. The “C” word is all too familiar to survivors of suicide.

Hopefully there are many parents who are able to pull their children back from the brink, saving them from becoming a suicide statistic. Bless you! I know you are eternally grateful. If you happen to read this post, I pray that your child is also grateful for a second chance at life and will find ways to live it to the fullest.

On the other hand, I bear the scars of a suicide statistic. My firstborn completed his attempt. There was no one around to stop him . . . this time. Yes. Previously, he had been given a second chance at life. He took it. We were so relieved and grateful. I held my breath and prayed for him constantly. His life continued on for years, so many so, that I mistakenly thought his troubles were behind him. Alas, they must have continued in a slow simmer, or started up again. I ache to the bone that he is no longer a part of my life.

Aren’t we glad we aren’t almost daughters of God, or almost friends of His Son, Jesus? Spiritually speaking, almost is nothing, nil, zero. How thankful I am that God doesn’t almost save His children. He really has!

“Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish!” Ephesians 2:8-9 MSG

PS – I was recently reminded, once again, of this all-to-familiar family trait when hubby went to the store to buy me a birthday card. In the process he somehow got confused and returned home with a greeting card, which read beautifully until the last line . . . “Happy Birthday, Mom!” Mom??!! Sigh. What can I say? The apples, in this family’s orchard, certainly don’t fall far from the tree.

Verse shared from The Message