When May 19 – 23 rolls around every year, it is never an easy time for Josh and I. These few days mark the time between the discovery of the stillbirth of our middle son, Caleb, and laying him to rest in the cemetary.
May 19 is the day when the doctors couldn’t find his heartbeat, May 21 is the day he was delivered, and May 23 was his funeral and burial. This year it began on a Wednesday.
Wednesday brought a bittersweet time as I helped a friend pack up her baby clothes to get ready for an upcoming move. I found a few precious items in the piles that I had passed along to her – clothes my boys have worn over the years, and the memories of them as I held those clothes again reminded me that God has given me two sons to raise, and one was His to raise. Caleb will never wear that Christmas outfit I remember buying 8 years ago for his older brother, instead he’ll be forever clothed with the beauty of heaven.
Friday was Caleb’s birthday and we launch a helium balloon into the sky every year. We go to a park with our sons, we pray, we all hold the string and kiss the balloon, we sing Happy Birthday and we let it go together. We see who can keep it in sight the longest – Josh always wins. This year wasn’t as sad as other years. This year Josiah had the idea to include jelly beans for Caleb, and Elijah wanted to include a verse. He picked one that we had read that morning. So we attached the candy and verse to the balloon string and we marvelled at how our boys are making this celebration their own. Elijah shouted out “Here comes your present Caleb! Don’t forget to get your present!” And I laugh and take joy in what I have, because that’s the best thing I can do to honour my Caleb, and I blow a kiss to the heavens, and I watch my boys play at the park.
Sunday is the last day to of the intense remembering. The day of Caleb’s funeral and burial. This year we were at church and Teen Challenge was visiting. A wonderful ministry that helps men overcome their addictions and sets them free to experience God’s love and new life. They share their stories and they sing. I love it when they visit. As the service comes to an end, Josh spontaneously asks the men to sing one more song. They are caught by surprise but they pick a song – or should I say God picks a song and whispers it to them and they begin to sing… I Can Only Imagine. This was the song that spoke to our hearts the most during May 19 – 23 of 2003. This was the song that we played at Caleb’s funeral. This was the song that inspired the words on Caleb’s gravestone – Surrounded By Glory. And as they sing God’s gift to us that morning, I look at the men singing and I picture them standing beside Caleb one day and I see the look in their eyes when they realize how God used them the morning of May 23, 2010 at All Nations Church. I am reminded of how much God loves us, and how seamlessly He weaves everything together. We just have to trust. We have to trust because there is nothing else to do.
And so our intense time of remembering Caleb comes to an end for 2010. It’s been 7 years. It doesn’t get easier, and I guess I hope it never does. But it does get better, fuller, more of joy than sadness, more of looking forward to meeting him than constantly missing him.
We will always remember Caleb, he is part of our family, he is part of our days, he is part of our hope, and he is part of our future. And that’s always a wonderful thing to remember.
Love you angel boy – big kisses from Mommy!