There are times when an ordinary day becomes tremendously significant and profound comfort comes from a most unlikely place.
Seventeen years ago it was a crisp, beautiful Saturday like today. My husband was at his regular early morning tennis match, my soon to be 9-year old daughter was nestled comfortably in her bed. I was excited about the day. On the kitchen counter was a decorated birthday cake prepared the night before for my daughter’s birthday party to be held at the local swimming pool that afternoon. On the table were the preparations for a morning baby shower to celebrate my sister’s 10-day old son. The plan of the day was fun, life affirming celebrations! But nothing went according to my plan.
Something was horribly wrong. My quiet, well-planned morning quickly became paramedics pounding on my door, my pajama-clad daughter being shuttled by strangers to the next-door neighbor and an ambulance transport to the hospital for an emergency C-section. There would be no sibling rivalry, no dad coaching his son’s little league team, no cousins playing and growing together. No 17-year-old son doing whatever they do regarding their mom.
A couple of months ago, before she returned to college, one of the things my daughter wanted to do as a family was visit her brother’s gravesite. In our little somewhat yearly ritual we look at the gravestone, clear off grass and any other debris and think about what might have been and what might be. We look at the other grave markers and take note of the dates and the families and allow a little stab of pain to enter our hearts as we see new markers have been added and know the pain others have experienced. This time though, a phrase on one of the markers caught our attention and spoke profoundly to our hearts.
We pondered that last phrase and considered the truth of it. He is a far greater part of our future than he is of our past. The pain of the past, the emptiness of the present is nothing compared to the joy and gladness we will know in the future. We grasp at straws to extract as much meaning as we can from the seven months and nine short hours that our Jared lived with us on earth. Throughout each passing year we remember at odd and sometimes unexpected times this person that we did not have the opportunity to get to know and wonder, as the Kenney Chestney song says, “Who You’d Be Today.” But our eternal future stretches unendingly before us filled with promise and hope. A hope that we are assured will not make us ashamed or disappoint us. A hope that serves as the anchor of the soul. And he’ll be there.
We miss the good that we imagine would have accompanied Jared’s life with us here. But this world is filled with pitfalls, and I have spent sleepless hours praying for my daughter, concerned about her well being, wondering about her future. I admit, I have not had one anxious thought about my son’s well-being. I have not said one prayer for his safety or his future. I have perfect assurance that he is in good hands and immune to the dangers of this mortal life. His mortal has already put on immortality.
Parents want their children to be remembered.
This grave marker also struck me because the parents put “Remember Me” at the top of it.
That was such a large part of my grief, thinking no one would remember my child. How could they? They wouldn’t even know he existed. That is why I chose “Zachary” for his middle name. Zachary means God remembers. That is why I wrote a book of poetry expressing my grief and God’s comfort following our loss and called it “God Remembers.”
I am grateful for these other families and their silent encouragement to me – left on the markers remembering their child’s short life.
It was a blessing that day to be reminded that my eternal future is a much larger part of me than this earthly existence. And that my son is a far greater part of my future than he is of my past.