February 22, 2008 was one of the most profound days of my life. We were so well loved and surrounded by people who prayed us through and welcomed our boy. It was a day of tangible love and peace. Our son was born and placed immediately into his daddy's arms and was able to meet all of his family and many friends before he was embraced by the arms of his Heavenly Father.
Letting go of that boy was agonizing. I struggled to memorize EVERY feature of his tiny face, I breathed him in for as long as I could hoping that somehow that feeling would be engrained in my soul long enough for this not to shatter my heart into a million pieces.
I'd let go before. Our son Isaac was born in July of 2005 and died six short days later. I spent the majority of that time in shock and struggled to make sense of all that was happening and that shock prevented me from REALLY breathing him in, it kept me from fully embracing each moment because I was terrified of the future. In a way, Isaac taught me how to love his brother better. Because of Isaac, I was able to love Asher more fully and make sure there were no regrets.
Both boys knew only love. But after loving Isaac and letting go and feeling I might literally die of heartache, yet finding that God and His people carried me until I could walk again, I was able to trust that prior experience and love with a reckless abandon that I'd never known. I was able to embrace Asher and all of the joy and pain that came with the gift of him.
As I sit here on what would have been his seventh birthday, my heart still aches. Tears still fall and I sometimes struggle to catch my breath, but I know God is there, I know He will provide the comfort and the grace for each day. I wish more than anything that my boys were both still with me, but that was not His plan.
The more I think about them, the more I realize the magnitude and significance of their short lives. Because of them, I am not afraid to love and let go, I have a deeper peace in knowing that even when it feels like I might die of heartache, God will use that pain and bring beauty from it. It was in our boys honor that we decided to foster. It has never been our goal to replace those sweet treasures, but to honor them well. To parent them as best we can even in death, and we felt God calling us to love other children in need in their absence. Because we know God will not let us die of heartache, because He has taught us to love so fully not knowing what the future holds, we are able to be a family for those who need one even if for just a time, we are able to give our whole selves to them even knowing they might leave and we may never again see them.
They deserve someone to breathe them in, to memorize their faces and to wipe their tears. I am beyond humbled that that someone is me. We are no longer afraid of the pain of letting go because if it hurts, it means they were well loved and that is the ultimate goal. We have learned to trust God so fully that our pain is secondary to all else...we know that even in our agony, there is purpose and beauty if we make an effort to not let it harden our hearts, but to soften them, we don't become exempt from the pain, we'll never be immune, but we learn to live with it, to embrace it and to even be thankful for it because it grows us, it brings us closer together, closer to Him and He ALWAYS brings purpose from it. This lesson, taught to me by a sweet 4 pound 1 ounce baby boy aptly named Asher.
Happy Birthday sweet Asher Joseph, I could not be any more proud to be your mama. I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living, my baby you'll be.