We are almost at what would be Joseph's 6th birthday. Allen and I really don't imagine much what he "would be like" now because it's just too hard to even do that. To us he will always be 4 years old. But I can't help thinking that this would have been a big year for him, starting kindergarten and beginning to be more independent of us. I can just picture him so proudly wearing a big backpack and bounding up to new children and charming them with his infectious laugh and mischievous spirit. He always wanted to include everyone and make sure everyone was happy and having fun.
For weeks I have been trying to prepare myself for these two days: August 20 and 21, but there doesn't seem to be any real way to make them better. To be honest, every day is difficult and in a way these days are easier because most of our close friends acknowledge that they are difficult and so we have support there. It is the random days during the year where we just feel down for no apparent reason and feel like everyone has forgotten him and forgotten that we miss him--those days can be the worst. But these two days are still hard as we have lots of memories that we relive and then there is just the pain of celebrating his birthday with his empty chair staring at us.
We do believe that Joseph is with Jesus now and that his life had purpose. There is no way we will ever understand why this happened to him and to us but we do know God is the same God he was before all this and He is still our only safe refuge. There just is nowhere else to find real peace. For a while after Joseph died I just couldn't talk to God much. Still believed in Him and knew He still loved me but there was nothing to say, to him or to anyone. I felt so deeply wounded. I think I tried to ignore him and retreated into my shell of self-protection or self-pity. It was just hard to accept that life was still happening outside of my pain. But after a long time of that I am remembering how much I really need God for this life and self-pity is a slippery slope that leads nowhere good. God has been faithful to meet me as I crack open that Bible (mostly the Psalms) and open myself up to Him. And I feel so encouraged as verses really apply to where I am in life and instill hope in me for the future. One Psalm in particular has been very comforting--Psalm 73. The whole Psalm is wonderful but the last few words have resonated with me: "But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds." It is just good to be near God.
For Joseph's birthday we plan to go to his favorite spots again this year, have some cupcakes and send balloons up to heaven. If you would like to celebrate his birthday this way (sending balloons up), please do so. And if you get a chance to take pictures we would love to see them and maybe post them all on the blog.