Happy birthday to my son. Oh how I miss you. I have come to enjoy this tradition of writing a letter to you on your birthday. I sit with tears pouring down my face as I write on my laptop and look at pictures on my phone remembering… remembering the joy that you brought to my life and to so many others. It seems unimaginable that on June 26th that you will have been gone from me for 10 years- a whole decade.
I see you in the last moment that was ours with you on this earth alive with your big grin and your love for your mom, and simultaneously, my heart aches for you as it feels like a lifetime ago. I miss you with my whole heart.
I remember the first birthdays after your death, and during those birthdays I still felt like I could picture where you would be and what you would be doing. But now, my heart has so many questions about what you would have been doing if you were still here with us almost 10 years later.
I have watched with joy as Jackson and Haley are raising their little girl, Lexie and her husband are raising their little girl, and Garrett and Sydney are raising their little boy… oh how my heart would have loved to watch you be a dad. Now Matt and Will are becoming dads as well. Tanner is getting married. I watch your dear friends move through these seasons of life with great joy for them and with such a longing to have had the blessing of watching you do the same. It is that joy and grief all mixed up together. It is just a part of my life now. I can feel the joy deeply while I long for you and miss you all at the same time.
Our Kylee girl got married just three weeks ago. Jamal Rodgers is his name. You would have loved that he had played basketball and football at EPC. You would have loved the joy and love that he has brought into your sister’s life. You would have loved to watch him with the children at Central as I do where he is the assistant children’s pastor. Watching Jamal in the children’s ministry has been one of my greatest gifts besides watching him love and honor your sister. Watching him kneeling down beside children and telling them about Jesus has been priceless. It was a beautiful wedding- we missed you and dad so much. Oh how we wanted you to be there to celebrate with us. Your uncles took turns dancing with Kylee for the Father-Daughter dance- my heart ached with pain and swelled with gratitude all at the same time. They all surrounded her in a big group hug after the dance. It was beautiful beyond words. It is one of those moments where pain and joy meet and will be tucked away in my heart forever.
There are so many moments in my days when my heart thinks of you… I see you in the little boys that I watch running and playing and laughing so hard…. I see you in the athletes who are trying to be the best that they can be in their sports… I see you in the young men with questions and inquisitive and analytical minds… I see you in the smiles of others… I hear you in the laugher and joy that others are experiencing… I see you when I am on my knees in prayer… I love and miss you with my whole heart.
I am continually thankful for the blessing of the scholarships that we give out in your memory. We have now given away $29,000 in scholarships in your honor. We did fundraising through t-shirts this year in addition to the quilt raffle that your grandma makes for us. I love watching others wearing their t-shirts and bracelets in honor of you. Each year there are young boys coming to the table getting their PK bracelets with big smiles. I just picture you smiling so big at these things. Dad’s family is using the t-shirts for the family reunion this year. I anticipate that I will have many thankful tears as I see everyone in their “no excuses no regrets PK 34” t-shirts at the reunion. What a blessing all of these things are to your memory. What a blessing these scholarships are that bless others in honor of you. Giving those scholarships away is honestly one of my favorite parts of the year and such a special way to bless others in your memory my sweet boy.
Recently, I was at the site where you died. The cross needs to be fixed in the lettering and painted again. One of my best friends who was there with me said that the way that the accident happened makes it seem like you were instantly gone and that you were not lying there in pain and suffering. My heart has always struggled that I was not there with you to help you… I had been with you in almost all of the significant parts of your life. My heart has ached that I was not with you so I am going to try to tuck those words away in my heart- that you were instantly in The Presence of Jesus and were in complete peace and joy.
Often I do not think that we realize the expectations that we have in our minds. I do not think I realized all of the expectations that I had in my heart that we would still experience together in this life. I have had to release those expectations one by one through these years without you. I am trying to lay each one down at The Feet of Jesus and to pray for His peace that passes understanding.
I have the blessing of facilitating two grief groups now, and the pain that is experienced is so deep by so many around me. I am thankful to be able to journey with them as they are grieving. There are so many in deep pain my sweet boy. So many. So many. My heart hurts for each one.
I have been loving this song below called “Remember to Remember” by Steven Curtis Chapman. So many of the words ring true for me. “I see the mountaintops that I journeyed over…”, and I can tell you that I am grateful for each one. I enjoy thinking back on the 18+ years that I had with you, and the mountaintops that we saw together literally and figuratively. “And I see the valleys deep where I crawled on my hands and knees,”… these words definitely bring me back to when I lost you- the “deepest dark” and “the valleys deep” are accurate descriptions of those days. “Pages and memories filled with joy and stained with tears”… these words are a part of my heart.
As I remember you today my sweet boy and think of how I long to see your smiling face, to hear your incredible laughter, and to hug and hold you so tight… I say thank you to God with all of my heart for every moment and remembrance that I have of you.
I say thank you to God with all of my heart that as this song says that “He carried me through the deepest dark” and that I can “remember His promises for every step on the road ahead”. These words are truth to my heart today and every day.
It is a joy to remember you my sweet boy and all that you brought to my life and to those around you. I love you forever. I choose you every time to be my boy- forever and always. Never ever wonder if you are on my mind and in my heart- you always will be. I carry you with me and in my heart forever.
I love you with my whole heart.
Below are song lyrics that have been on my heart and right below the lyrics is the link to click to listen: Steven Curtis Chapman- “Remember to Remember”
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