Happy 15th Birthday
To the little boy who would have been 15 today…
Happy Birthday to our Blue Blankie of Love
The day Christopher was born was such a celebration of love and miracles and joy. His first birthday was a smash up of hope and sadness and another trip to the PICU. Here we are years later, and the years in some ways only get harder, not easier. When you have children you don’t realize all the incredible pieces of their lives we are allowed to witness and be apart of. It is a gift to have each child. Watching a child grow up is an honor, and to have that taken away leaves a loss that is bottomless. If there was a switch we could have flipped to not make us miss him so much, to make the pain not so bad we would have done that years ago, but love doesn’t work that way.
People will, in only being human, say things that lend pain to people that have suffered an extreme loss. Last week someone told me the reason why God took him when he was a baby was because he was still young enough and perfect enough, God make a mistake and he should be walking in heaven instead. There are a million pages to a book I could write of things people have said that cut me to the core. To me he shouldn’t be in heaven, he should be getting dirty on a baseball field with red mud on his cleats with his little brother. If you don’t know what to say, simply say, “I’m sorry, tell me about his beautiful life.”
I have always thought of myself as a woman of science, and a woman of faith. These two lives can live very parallel, yet smash into each other at any point. As a woman of science, I know we got the raw end of the deal. I know there are 7,000 rare diseases and there are only a few treatments (NOT cures) for only a small percentage of these diseases. We didn’t eat or drink anything wrong, we didn’t listen to music too loud or not take our vitamins. Sometimes in life, things just happen. There was never a before or after with Christopher, there just simply a “was”. When you have a child born with a chronic/terminal illness, there just “is”. So this is how we have chosen to live our lives, in the just “is”. We know realistically, until there are millions of dollars pumped into the NIH and into research, genetic engineering is the only way these children are going to live their lives. There is so much science and advancements in medicine that needs to be studied.
As a woman of faith, I have taught my kids that God’s Blue Blankie is how we must continue to heal when the sadness overtakes us of not having Christopher here. There is a Blue Blankie Andrew has had since he was born and still sleeps with, it has been in shreds to the point where we took it to the dry cleaners and asked her to sew the strips back together. When we buried Christopher, we wrapped him in a blue blanket in his casket. There is a verse in the Bible and I don’t know the phrasing, but it talks about how God Weeps with us when we are sad and when there is tragedy. This is how we teach our family to keep going. To think of God wrapping his Blue Blankie of love around us when we miss him, when we wish he could have watched him grow up. We must all find our peace in tragedy and God the best individual way we know how, but when we feel the overwhelming loneliness from tragedy, we try to hold onto that Blankie, even though sometimes we may not be successful.
Last month for Spring Break we flew to Mexico for our 20th Wedding Anniversary. As we flew, I had each child on either side of me and thought of Christopher the entire way. You can live a parallel world in grief, both happy and sad. I was happy to be going on vacation, yet sad again for not having him here with us wondering what a vacation for a family of 5 would have been. There will always be the wondering, and that is OK. When the plane landed and our cell phones came on, up popped a picture and a text of our Christopher tree at Virginia Tech. A very dear friend had been in Blacksburg and snapped a picture of our Christopher tree on the duck pond, telling me she had gone by to the see the tree and tell Christopher hi. Oh what a beautiful Blue Blankie sign! In that moment, and for the rest of the trip, I knew he was with us as we continued to walk this beautiful parallel world.