It’s been three years since you were held in my womb.
Three years since your “birth”day, the day we celebrate your short life and remember the gift of you.
You’re an Adams, my son. The 6th in our family. And, oh you were loved. We still love you.
They say it gets easier with time, which is true to an extent, but this year was harder for me than last year. You would have been a big boy today had you lived. Three years old is such a fun year, exploring and reading and learning and getting messy and snuggling close. As we walked into Party City with all your siblings to choose a birthday balloon for you, I just stood and stared at the bins of balloons, unable to pick one.
I love birthdays. I love giving gifts and planning the perfect day for my treasures. I love making special meal plans and baking the cake and filling the day with favorites and loads of memories.
But, there I stood, surrounded by my other precious loves all clamoring for balloons for you, and all I could think about was how a balloon was just not much of a gift.
I wanted to hold your hand and run to the park. I wanted to dig in the dirt with your monster trucks. I wanted to tickle you until your head falls back in uncontrollable laughter. I want to see your eyes, feel your skin, kiss your cheeks, touch your hair. I want to know what your favorite fruit is and the way you like your veggies. I want to kiss your owies, wipe your tears, and teach you about Jesus.
But three years.
Three years since I lost the little boy I never even got to meet.
And the only gift I have for your birthday is a balloon.
Your Daddy and I have a special tradition the night before a birthday. We hold each other and talk about that child, reminisce about the little years, share how they’ve grown, and pray for all they will be. We laugh and sometimes cry as we pause and celebrate that precious life. Last night we did the same for you, Elijah. Daddy asked me how I was doing because he knows how important you are to me. He held me as I wept for the loss we share, and reminded me not to feel guilty for grieving for you, no matter how small you were or how brief your life was. Though it was life-giving to share that time talking about you, I still felt like I was missing out on something special as I woke up today on your birthday. Sadness still lingered as we shouted, “Happy Birthday, Elijah!” and released our balloons, watching them dance away in the morning sunrise.
We all drove to get coffee before school, and the barista mixed up the order and made one extra coffee for us. Of course, I was just going to drink it and enjoy the bonus J, but your biggest brother chimed in and said he wanted to make someone have a really great day by giving it away. Blessed by his generous spirit, we prayed and asked the Father to guide us to the person He wanted us to share Jesus with by sharing our extra coffee. We drove around for a while, but didn’t find anyone so we headed home, but in the last mile, we spotted a beautiful lady with a head covering. We asked if she wanted a coffee, but she kindly declined, and then we noticed her husband walking behind her. My son held out our gift, and he gladly accepted. We exchanged friendly greetings and I called out, “Jesus bless you!” as we pulled away.
One simple gift, given away because we had been given more.
Elijah James, I won’t see your face until we meet again in Heaven, but because of your life, because of the gift of you, I’m prompted to give more generously than I was before. My gracious God gave me the blessing of carrying you and being your mama, and I want others to know that, regardless of what they gain or lose, Jesus Christ is everything.
Your life opened my eyes to see people more clearly. Your life taught me to be more compassionate to those who experienced loss. God used you, my little E, to take my “extra” and give it away for the sake of the Kingdom.
I guess I found a way to give a gift in your honor after all, Elijah. By loving others as Jesus has loved me, I’m honoring the gift of your life that God blessed me with.
It’s Christ that fills me up, even in my sadness.
It’s Christ that is my overflowing abundance, even in loss.
Happy 3rd birthday, Elijah James, I praise Jesus for the gift of you!