I dreaded this day and every year, for the past 9 years, I wondered if this would be the year. Well, this year, December 9, 2014, was the year. My son’s 10th birthday. A joyous celebration to most. A rite of passage in some ways. No longer a little kid, into double digits! So many exciting things to look forward to!
Except that my son died when he was 1.
I wondered if anyone would remember. I hoped some friends/family would acknowledge. We have always gotten some cards, phone calls, hugs, emails, or messages in past years. For some reason, I was really worried this year. I felt like this might be the year no one remembers. And, I was right. (Well, 3 people remembered – but that’s it.) We got no calls. We got no cards. Not even one email message or facebook post on our page. I got a rose in the mail from my sister, which she sends every year. I got a message from my mom and a hug from my boss. (And I so appreciated each of those gestures.) But, wow. The world has forgotten.
However, my amazing story is this. While the world has forgotten, God remembered. Do you know how I know this? I shared that I was wondering if this would be the year. I really worried about it in the days leading up to Louie’s birthday.
The entire week before his birthday I was so sick. I dragged myself to the doctor on Saturday. After waiting for over an hour, the doctor entered. He didn’t introduce himself, ask me my name or how I was feeling, or anything. He glanced at the computer screen which listed my symptoms, (sore throat, tight chest and cough, on and off fever), and he began to lecture me on how I am not taking care of myself. He went on to tell me that I shouldn’t need an antibiotic more than once every six years. I am obviously ignoring other things that are happening in my body and not taking care of them. (Did I mention I never met this doctor before.) Anyway, after about 5 minutes of this and me trying to get a word in edgewise, I got up and left. He never looked at me, listened to my lungs, or anything. I walked out. I cried. I was so furious, angry, frustrated, and still feeling so sick.
So, I struggled through Sunday and Monday morning. Monday afternoon, I left work early and headed to a new Urgent Care facility near my house. I needed to feel better soon. We saw a doctor who was so kind and caring. He listened to me, shared that his mom and wife were both teachers and he understands how exposed we are to germs, talked with me and prescribed the correct meds to help me out. As he went to leave, hand on the door knob, he stopped and turned around. He said, “I hope this doesn’t upset you, but I just feel like I should tell you that I had a son that died 13 years ago.” He went on to share Scripture that helps him through, how he remembers his son, a camp that he runs to help other families and more. I had tears in my eyes. I thanked him. He said, “You don’t need to thank me. I just felt moved to tell you.”
I told him that we, too lost our son. And that his birthday was tomorrow. His words and his Scripture were just what I needed to hear. He had no idea that we were “part of the club.” There would be no way for him to know that, except for a nudge from the Holy Spirit. We shared some stories and pictures. Shed a tear or two and said goodbye.
As I was driving home, I realized that it doesn’t really matter if the whole world forgets my son’s birthday. What matters is that God remembers, and He did. And He showed me that He remembered through this amazing doctor. A doctor I would not have seen if I had not fallen ill, if I had not had a poor experience at my regular practice, and if I had not decided to take a half day on that Monday. None of this was a coincidence.
My heart still hurts that our human world has forgotten my boy. But I rejoice in the knowledge that our Creator is with him and will never forget him or me!