I don't know why, but when my mom woke me up with a phone call at 2:59 am on June 13, and told me Jace was in the hospital unconcious and they were paging a neurosurgeon, the first thing I prayed when I hung up, was, "Thank you God for the gift you have given us in Jace. Every moment with him has truly been a beautiful gift." I'm not saying I knew he was going to die or anything weird like that, I just felt overwhelming thankfulness for every hug and every kiss and every second of listening to his laughter.
This Christmas is not very merry. We can't buy presents for our baby. My mom put a tiny Christmas tree on his grave instead. In the end I am still thankful for every kiss and every hug and every second of laughter. I could say a lot of depressing stuff about how life sucks, because its really not very enjoyable anymore. Instead I will tell you that God exists in the valleys and on the mountaintops and on the mountaintops that we foolishly mistake for valleys. I will tell you that loving God does not mean living a life free of pain. I will tell you that all children should be cherished. I will tell you that the most important things in our lives are not things at all. They are people.
God didn't send a bigger house or a new car to the earth to save us. He sent us his son. Someone we could know, touch, hear, and feel to earth to save us. Our relationships need to be treasured and nurtured and not taken for granted. During this difficult time in my life there have been many people who have reached out to me and comforted me and helped me. I am grateful to each of you for what you have done. There are a few outside of my family who have gone the second mile for me, and I want to thank them.
Andrea Keown has prayed for me. During the summer, when the last place I wanted to be was home, she flew me to Seattle and let me stay with her for 10 days. I was not the happiest or funnest person to be around, but she let me cry and be depressed all I needed to, and bought me a fan, because it was hot outside, and took me to Canada instead of her mom's house. She baked for me and ate Canadian brussel sprouts with me and bought me a lot of coffee.
Valerie Lahmeyer is one person outside my family who can come close to understanding my pain. She has made sacrifices for children, and right after losing her own child, flew to Tulsa to be with me during Jace's funeral. She stuck by my side that whole week. She has recently become my roommate, and has put up with my irrational tantrums at her putting up Christmas decorations and random crying spells anytime the conversation turns to a reminder of Jace.
Erin Roberts is not good at talking about my pain and loss. She gets really awkward when I get sad and gets kind of therapisty with me. She gets this "oh no" look in her eyes, but that's ok - she deals with it and lets me talk anyway. In the meantime, she has spent about a bazillion hours over the last two months helping me make quilts out of Jace's clothes for my family. Seriously a bazillion hours. Let me tell you, its not exactly fun making stuff out of a dead kid's pajamas. It's depressing. I don't know anyone else who would do this for me, and Erin doesn't even love Jesus (yet).
Andrea Duntley has just been the best best friend of all best friends in the history of best friends. She has talked, laughed, cried, listened, let my wipe my snot on her shoulder, made her kids hug and kiss me, rolled her eyes at me less, and has shown me by example how to still love God even when I don't understand him.
Who are your gifts?