As soon as the air starts turning warm and the first signs of spring start emerging, I feel it in my bones. Before my mind even catches on to what’s happening, my body remembers. I start feeling anxious, nostalgic, sad because with the arrival of spring comes the cascade of memories. The odd thing is, spring has held this dichotomy of grief mixed with the hope of new beginnings since I was eleven years old. As a young girl I won’t ever forget sitting in my brother’s truck, still parked at the park near his high school. He had left it there that sunny spring day in April, the day he never came home. The rain poured down relentlessly, the slippery mud was everywhere, turning the park into a barren shoe trodden mess. In Colorado, thunderstorms are sparse, but April of 1999 it rained for almost a week straight. From then on, spring not only meant Easter, flowers springing up, and warm weather wrapping you up like a long lost relative giving you a hug. Spring from then on brought pain, grief and trauma as we relieved it all, with a media that also seemed to relive it all too often.
Eighteen years later, I was approaching spring with that same mixture of hope and relief and grief. My third child, Joshua Toby was born just past the first days of spring on March 23rd. We held such hope for this little life, this little fighter. Mixed with that hope and joy was fear, fear because we didn’t know the extent of the birth defects he would be born with and what that meant for him and our future. So now, five years later, every spring, it starts. I start feeling the pain, the sadness, but also the joy that my little boy brought to me. It’s fitting to me that Easter falls in Springtime. Jesus went through horrendous pain, betrayal, fear and stress before He died and rose again three days later and all of humanity was saved. It’s a story of hope and joy that could only come after a period of mourning and pain.
On Joshua’s birthday, it comes with pain. Pain of not being able to sing happy birthday to a five year old little boy, or buy him his favorite toys. Pain of not being able to celebrate him with family and friends. Pain of the “could haves”. What would my son look like now? Would he have my dark hair or my husband’s green eyes like his brothers?
Through the pain, we still celebrate him, how special he was and the impact he had and continues to have forever on our lives. I celebrate the hope we have in seeing him again someday, that glorious day when he will see me and say “Momma, I’ve been waiting for you.” So while spring might always bring a tinge of sadness even after decades pass, it’s also always been a time for me to sit even more intently in the promise of the hope I have in Jesus. Hope cannot come without pain or longing, because if we had everything we ever wanted or needed in this moment, what need is there for hope? Like so many things in life, spring holds the pain and the joy, the grief and the hope.
Happy Birthday you beautiful soul. I can’t wait to hold you again. Happy five year old birthday my son.