Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Joseph's Birthday

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.


Kate Etue said...

Gill--we love you guys and we miss Joseph all the time. In fact, Annie saw a balloon go up in a parking lot the other day, and she told me it was going to Joseph. :) We'll celebrate him this weekend. Praying you'll feel close to him and Jesus this weekend.

Nana-Bear said...

Gillo we love you very much and miss Joephs' beautiful smile.I just wrote a long message and the blog ate it!!Read Isaiah 40;11 for you and Allen and know that Jesus is holding you all at this time and Joseph is in his arms.I am praying for the Lord to comfort you this weekend.We have Thomas the tank engine balloons we will go to Joe Ps favorite spot on the tree trunk and have a "yittle rest' We miss Joe P all the time and we love you all very much Nana-bear Grandad and Davey

Anonymous said...

Love you, Gill. We've been thinking about Joseph and praying for you guys since August rolled around. We continue to remember him and will do something special to celebrate his life. Love you, Sweet friend!
Ashley Smith

Christy said...

I love how you have so creatively found a way to celebrate Joseph's life on his birthday when it would be so easy and natural to only grieve and stare at that devastating empty chair. I'm also constantly amazed by how you choose to live in the day-to-day when I know you must feel so alone in your sorrow. You give such a bright, happy home to your girls and still take time to laugh with your silly friends. I apprecite every laugh and smile - I know you work for each one.

Hope this week is meaningful and somehow, miraculously, brings some healing.

emily said...

you don't know me, but i have read your blog since it began.. i just wanted to let you know that Joseph's life changed mine - i had always known what i wanted "to do" with my life, and had just gotten into graduate school when I started reading your blog and praying for Joseph. Joseph is why i am now working towards becoming a child life specialist. He is why I began volunteering at Texas Children's hospital, and he is why i want to eventually do something even more than these things for childhood cancer. I am not exaggerating when I say that his life reset mine, and i just want you to know i think of him often.

I am thankful that God's purpose for our lives isn't just set or limited to the days we are here. I pray that God shows you tangible examples of this in the upcoming days, and in the random days.. I just pray you know that people do remember your sweet boy. i can only imagine how it feels like the world has totally "moved on" - but I am proof that God's knit Joseph into the lives and hearts of so many.

Anonymous said...

Gill and Allen,
I don't know how you are able to put your emotions into such beautiful words that reveal the pain and the struggle of your daily walk. I'm holding you close through prayer.
Not a day goes by that we don't miss Joseph. How thankful we are for the many wonderful happy memories.
Friday afternoon my class will let balloons go and then we'll share brownies together. Then on Saturday, we will go eat dinner at Moe's and sit at the booth where Joseph and Holly would welcome people in by hollering out, "Welcome to Moe's!"
Love, Big Daddy and Mimi

Megan Gray said...

Great Post Gillian! I will get some balloons on Friday. It may be that I can't take photos, but if I do, I'll send them along.
All the Best!
Megan Gray
(Allen's cousin)

Lynn T said...

Dearest Gill and Allen...We will be celebrating sweet Joe P this Friday. Love you so much.

Peamama said...

Emily, thanks so much for sharing that. I know you will make a huge difference in children's lives. I'm glad to hear God used Joseph to lead you towards that.

Brea said...

You've expressed your heart so beautifully, Gillian. I think of Joseph every time I see you, and I always marvel at the joy you have in the daily living of life, knowing how much you must be missing him every moment of every day. I'm thankful that God is drawing you near to Him. Anytime you want to talk about Joseph and remember his life I pray that I and others around you can provide a listening ear. Love you all very much.

Missy @ It's Almost Naptime said...

Well, how's this for coincidence.

My friend Mitzi's baby was born into heaven on July 11. It's been hell. Pure hell. And I have talked to her a lot about you. This week has sucked because guess what August 21 is - her due date.

Two little boys I never met yet miss so, so much.

Gill, all I can say - through tears - is someday - oh, what rejoicing there will be.


Lauren (Klein) Dickstein said...

Thinking of you and your beautiful family.

Anonymous said...

That's beautiful Gillian and Allen, thinking of you all the time but especially now. Ann

Sunshine Eyes said...

thank you for writing and for sharing your heart. We'll be celebrating him in Chicago this weekend, too.

Randi said...

Still here, Gill and Allen...There is hardly a day when I don't think of and miss your beautiful son. His birthday and angel date are in my heart forever, but his lovely smile is what I love to remember. Big hugs.

Cristi Slate said...

Hi Gillian! I've been thinking about your guys a lot this week and remembering Joseph! We love you!
Love, Cristi (and Andrew :)

Anonymous said...

I wish some how God could let you know how often Joseph is thought of by others. I think you would be amazed how frequent he is in our thoughts; which causes us to pray for you. And you have our continual prayers.
Vann & Norma

Anonymous said...

Our thoughts are with you at this difficult time and all year.
love always, Susan and Brian

Missy @ It's Almost Naptime said...