I posted this on our traveling the US blog, but I also wanted to share it here, because it’s what this blog is all about. Seeing God’s glory in the midst of grief and healing.
Before we even started packing for this trip and getting ready, I asked, Mike if we could bring Eli with us. I asked almost hesitantly. Somehow thinking that it would be taking up too much room to have the urn and memory box with us. Mike looked at me and said, “Of course.” I could pack up my wedding pictures. My furniture. My old college pictures. Yearbooks. Sentimental keepsakes. The other kids “special items.” But I couldn’t pack up Eli’s urn and memory box.
I’m so glad that we didn’t.
Over the last several months some of our friends have “met” our son through the pictures and keepsakes in the memory box and I’m so grateful that we were able to share that with them. But with all of those moments, nothing was as sweet as yesterday. Sharing Eli with our other children.
I was folding laundry yesterday, and Ellison went to a cabinet that Mike and I had recently cleaned and opened it up. She saw Eli’s urn right there and it was easy to grab. She grabbed it and said, “This is my brother! Can we open it so I can see him?” I said, “We can’t open it, but I’ll show you his pictures when I’m done with this laundry.” She said, “Ok!” While she went skipping away to the table showing Josiah and her Daddy, her brother, I thought, “So wasn’t ready for this today.”
As she came walking back to the bedroom, I was finishing up the laundry. The three older kids, meanwhile, have already started a conversation about seeing pictures of Eli and talking about where Eli is at that very moment.
As I pulled out the pictures, the kids looked at each one. We looked at prints of his hands and his feet. We looked at pieces of hair from his head. We looked at the bracelets from the hospital and the blood pressure cuffs and the smallest, ittiest, bittiest littlest diapers that you’ve ever seen. The kids marveled at how tiny he was.
The kids were so matter of fact. “That’s my brother.” “He’s with God.” We’re going to be with God and him one day.”
Boston even army crawled his way in to the conversation and while I held on to him, looked at pictures of Eli and looked at the three other children standing around and looking at what was in box, it struck me that I was surrounded by all five of my children. Each one a blessing. Each one in Jesus’ grasp. One with Jesus already. Four here that we can touch, hold and wach grow and mature. One who has Jesus as his Savior and three who we pray that their hearts will soften toward Him each day.
That moment was so incredibly teachable and there were three of the softest hearts right there that it was overwhelming. One moment we were talking about how God made Adam out of dirt and then the next how Jesus died for us so that we can be heaven with Him when we die if we accept Him in our hearts.
These are the moments we look for as parents. The times where are children’s hearts are pliable and soft and we as parents are raw and honest with a really painful time. That’s when our children see us as real and vulnerable. That is when Jesus is glorified. When we can show our children where our hope lies.
I’m glad that we brought Eli with us even if it’s just for that conversation with the other children. Now we all look forward to our turn to come when we get to heaven. To be with Jesus and be reunited with our son and brother. Our tears and pain will be washed away and will be no more. Instead there will be rejoicing and dancing. It will be a sweet, sweet, wonderful and perfect moment.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18