Every year, I anticipate it. It’s this mixed feeling of dread and excitement.
His birthday is approaching. The anniversary of his death.
Our son, Job Whitcomb.
For me, it’s both. Which is why my emotions are so complicated as the 18th approaches.
It’s like I finally have an excuse to reflect on him, to share the thoughts that I think all year-round, but keep to myself. Because for some reason, grief is only acceptable in pre-determined moments. But that’s not how it works. It comes in waves, sparked by the most unexpected things. So I find myself excited, because I can talk of him more freely. It’s like a free pass to allow myself to feel that pain, to remember, to celebrate, to share.
He didn’t breathe a breath on this earth, but it’s still the day I held him for the first time. It’s still the day that I memorized his face. The face that I see in Joelle.
It’s also the day that my life changed forever. Completely and irrevocably.
It’s the first day that I truly felt God in my life.
I remember that sometime in that year after we first lost him, I came across a new book that sounded wonderful. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I remember it being wonderful, a story of finding joy in the everyday. I actually changed my previous blog’s name for that reason. But the details of the book were fuzzy as time went on.
A month ago, while cleaning out some shelves, I grabbed it again and decided I needed to read it again. I stuck it in my reading basket and have thought of it many times.
But today, despite that I am halfway through another book, I picked it back up, ready for a re-read. And I got lost immediately.
See I had forgotten the first chapter. The chapter that made me cry incessantly the first time around, and brought me to tears again. It’s that God-timing. He knew I needed to read it again this week. I wish I could type out the whole book for you, really- just go read it. But basically the first chapter is about her discovery of the Lord. And it highlights the tragic loss of her younger sister as toddler when she was run over by a vehicle and the loss of two of her nephews to a rare genetic condition. Which of course, speaks to me instantly, the loss of a child. But these words, oh how they haunt me.
“I think of buried babies and broken, weeping fathers over graves, and a world pocked with pain, and all the mysteries I have refused, refused, to let nourish me. If it were my daughter, my son? Would I really choose the manna? I only tremble, wonder. With memories of gravestones, of combing fingers through tangled hair, I wonder too… if the rent in the canvas of our life backdrop, the losses that puncture our world, our own emptiness, might actually become places to see.
To see through to God.
That that which tears open our souls, those holes that splatter our sight, may actually become the thin, open places to see through the mess of this place to the heart-aching beauty beyond. To Him. To the God whom we endlessly crave.
Maybe so.” Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts
Oh Lord, that I might let you take these gaping holes to use for You.
Losing Job knocked a hole so large in my life, in my perceptions, in my concepts of life and goodness, and it’s only now that I can see God’s light streaming through it.
I truly believe God doesn’t set out to cause us pain, but I do believe he can work in incredible ways through it. As most of you know, shortly after we lost Job, we had another miscarriage, Monkey.
We had another miscarriage about a month ago. It was early, our earliest.
I’ve posted about our choice to use Natural Family Planning. But the process has grown us a lot since that post. We actively try to seek God’s will and timing each cycle when it comes to if we are ready for another child. We had been preventing for a while but we had both reached a point where we weren’t sure if it was the time for another baby. But we also felt that we were no longer sure it wasn’t time. We didn’t feel that it was clearly being revealed. So we decided to simply trust and leave it up to Him. To trust that God would carry out His will in our lives. Trust that He knows our family and it’s needs and it’s future better than we do.
Clearly, although we were still unsure as to God’s direction, He intended for us to conceive. That’s why we practice Natural Family Planning anyway. To make room for His plans, His will.
Although we had been a bit unsure of what He would bring, we were pretty thrilled, a new life is always a blessing. But just as we began to get ready to spread the news, it became apparent that this pregnancy would not continue. And despite the brevity of our pregnancy, we still grieved. Because we believe, from that very first moment, a life begins.
But we are thankful. For the brief moments of knowing this latest little one. For the days spent dreaming of who this would be and how our lives would grow. For the moments we had with our others. For the four littles running about. For the chance to seek His will. For the chance at new life.
And we will continue to approach NFP month by month, trying to to prayerfully consider the timing of adding to our family, the timing of adding another blessing. For this, this family, these children, they are our most important ministry.
Sweet Job, you changed my life forever, from the first moment I came running down the stairs with that pregnancy test to your daddy feeding your 3 month old big brother. To the last moment that they carried you out of my room. I still long for you to be here with us, wrestling with your big brother, digging in the dirt with the twins, tickling baby Jean. But oh the glories you must see daily. I hope you welcomed your brother or sister. I wish I could know you three. Could of had the chance to mother you. Someday, I will hug the three of you, and I can’t wait!