I would like to introduce you to a very special person in my life. First, I need to tell you a little about him. He is full of joy. He has a quick smile that lights up the room and warms your heart. His eyes look inquisitively around and there are times when I don’t realize he is staring at me and when I do, he flashes a grin like no other. He does not communicate in words but his eyes speak, his eyebrows add feeling, and he clearly gets his points across.
This is Caleb Michael.
Caleb is my grandson. My first grandson. Our first grandson. He was born the evening before Mike died. Mike did not get to meet him. I will never forget that moment when I heard the news that Caleb was born. I bent over and whispered in Mike’s ear, “You are a Grampa”, not knowing if he heard me or understood. I did not receive any response. My heart broke in two. “God, how could you possibly allow this to happen?!!” I cried out in my heart. Anger, disappointment, sadness, such deep sadness. Loneliness. And then joy, wonder, awe, incredible awe. Never before had I experienced such strong and wide ranging emotions. How I wanted to be near Rebecca and Keith during their time of joy in Caleb’s birth. I was supposed to be there, to encourage, support, and to hold that precious new little life. Things were not supposed to work out this way. Mike knew his grandson was on his way. He spoke to Rebecca that afternoon. He could have held on for a few more hours. He could have seen Caleb’s first picture, heard his first cries.
And yet, that was not the way it was going to be.
Mike was on his own journey. He had run the race, fought the good fight and he was ready, like Caleb, to be born into his new life. All I could do was cheer him on as he neared the finish line. I had to urge him through those last few steps.
All the while, I sensed Caleb in the distance; so far away physically and emotionally, waiting at the starting line.
And there I stood in the middle. Seeing both. So distant and yet so close.
And I cried. I was angry. I was confused.
It took me quite a while before I was able to hold little Caleb and accept the circumstances surrounding his birth. It all seemed so mean, and random, and clearly not well thought out. I started to think of God in that way. He clearly did not think this one through; it just seemed too cruel; what timing. He missed this one big time. How could He?!!
And then I held him. I held Caleb. My heart began to soften. And then I started to see my circumstances through God’s eyes rather than allowing the circumstances to define who God is. What an amazing gift. What incredible timing. My broken heart started healing little by little by the mere presence of a baby. A helpless little child who communicated so much and yet was not able to say a word. So precious. So dear. So trusting. And then the day came. Caleb started to laugh. A full belly laugh.
And I laughed. And laughed. And then we laughed together.
Today was Mike’s birthday. Like any other day, he would have gotten up, spent some time reading, and then gone off to work. He probably would have come home with stories of something special they did at lunch. Or maybe he would have taken the day off and spent it at home, working in the garden, or doing a project outside. I had no special plans to commemorate this day. I just couldn’t come up with any way to honor my best friend. So instead I decided to be thankful. Thankful for the memories we share. For the family we have. Most of all, thankful that I personally know a God who would be so kind, so thoughtful, so caring. The God who brought Mike into my life. The God who brought Caleb to us at a time of such great sorrow. I am so thankful that He knew, in time, the joy that Caleb would bring. He listened to my cries, my questions, my demands. And He waited. He waited until I was ready to reach out and pick up the gift He sent to us. And I am sure He smiled as He saw His plan unfold. It is a choice to be thankful. Some days it is not easy. Today, I chose to be thankful. This wounded heart is healing. Ever so slowly, but it is healing under the watchful eye of the One who is able to put it back together again; stronger than ever. And along the way, we will laugh. And then we will laugh some more.
It’s been a good day. Happy Birthday Mike.