I’ve thought quite a bit about what to say on this day; yet I’m still unsure about how to express my feelings. Normally, we “celebrate” birthdays and anniversaries, but today is certainly not a celebration in my mind. So I guess “observe” is a better word for me. We observe the first anniversary of Carter’s death May 25. Last year’s events swirl in my mind and the emptiness follows closely behind (see “Out of the Abyss” for more information from last year). The crushing blow of watching our daughter and son-in-law suffer through the tragic week knocks me to my knees again. I relive the tubes, wires, monitors, and equipment that kept his little body “alive” even though his brain couldn’t. I see the doctors, nurses, and staff members at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital tenderly caring for Carter, his mom and dad, and all of our family. And then all was quiet; just sobs and tears as we held him for the last time. The following days were long and empty while we waited for an autopsy and then to get Carter’s ashes. The question in my mind was “what now?” What should we be doing? I felt we were in the way at Katie and Joshua’s house, but I wanted to be close in the remote possibility that I could do something/anything to help them. I knew I couldn’t console them; it was just too new, too raw.
As difficult as this year has been I think we have grown in several ways. First, I think we have grown in “durability”; we’ve been knocked to the mat repeatedly, but have found the resolve to get back on our feet and go again. Next, I think we have grown in “flexibility”; much of the past year has not worked out as we had planned but we have somehow managed to pick up the pieces and put a new plan together. We have also grown in “loveability”; we have learned that life is precious but fragile and we should both love deeply and express that love to others. And I think we better understand how deeply we are loved by God. We don’t understand why all of this has happened but we do know He has the future in His hand and we can trust Him.
Finally, a personal note to Katie and Joshua: to say “today will be hard” is a gross mischaracterization of the feelings and emotions you have. And while I know I can’t take any of that away, I do want you to know that I love you so much! I admire your strength and tenacity to fight for happiness each day. “They say sometimes you win some, sometimes you lose some” from MercyMe’s Even If. But you two come out swinging every day and that tells me that you’re going to win the war. You may lose a battle here and there, but you’re going to win the war.
And after a year, we may not be “Out of the Abyss” yet but we are heading in that direction and are making good progress. For me, that is something to celebrate on this day of observation.