Monday, August 20, 2018

10 years


Today would be Joseph’s 14th birthday, which also means tomorrow  marks 10 years since he left us. When I look through these pictures it feels like all this happened just the other day, and then it also feels a very long time ago, as if it were another lifetime and it happened to other people. 

Probably part of the reason for that is because our  family now is teeming with life. We’ve been blessed with 3 more beautiful children since Joseph died and we are in that sweet season of raising them and helping them (with fear and trepidation) become the people God intends them to be. We have one well on her way to becoming an adult, one almost completely out of diapers, two in between, and 5,346 activities between them all.
When I look back on the last 10 years I’m filled with gratitude for all the ways God has led us and provided for us. As so many of us know, when you have a child there are these invisible strings that tether your heart to theirs. That doesn’t magically disappear once their physical body is no longer near you. Right after we lost Joseph, the physical ache we felt from longing to hold him, see him, and love him was completely debilitating. I wondered if I would ever feel or function normally again. 

Thankfully that heavy weight of grief doesn’t feel debilitating anymore, although waves will still hit me at unexpected times. God has provided abundant joy in these four treasures we get to parent now, and I cannot help but be grateful and thankful for that. I used to feel guilty for enjoying them and “forgetting” Joseph but he doesn’t need me to be miserable and guilty. He is enjoying uninterrupted joy and fulfillment with Jesus and he actually doesn’t need me at all anymore (which was a very difficult thing to accept, given his age when he died). Our children really are God’s, and while they are our responsibility for a while He is their true parent. 

I feel immense gratitude for the people God provided throughout Joseph’s cancer and then during the tender years after. We were overwhelmed with so much love, sympathy and support, and we would not have made it through without people being the hands and feet of Christ. Thank you to our friends and family who stuck with us when we were not much fun to be around. It takes so much kindness, empathy and love to walk with a grieving person and I’m just so grateful for our friends and family who walked closely with us.

I’m so grateful for Allen, the love of my life. I don’t know where I’d be without his sacrificial love and leadership in our family. He’s our breakfast-making, board game playing, adventure-creating captain. He still makes me laugh my head off, too, which I definitely thought would have worn off after 17 years.

I’m also so grateful to God, “ who daily bears our burdens” and is close to the broken-hearted. It seems God uses suffering as a key tool in drawing his children closer to His heart. Philip Yancey once wrote, “ Human beings do not readily admit desperation. When they do, the kingdom of heaven draws near.” We are always in need of God but our awareness of that need is definitely heightened in the midst of suffering/desperation. I’m grateful for the ways God has shown Himself faithful and present, especially in the midst of deep sadness.

We still miss Joseph deeply and I often wonder how the dynamics in our family would be different if he were the oldest one here on earth. I really wish the other kids knew him and had him as their big brother. Every new season brings fresh sadness as we see he would be starting middle school, starting to drive, etc. I don’t think we will ever come to an end of this grief journey here on earth. Joseph is a part of us and our family and we won’t ever forget the gift he was to us. But I hope we will continue to be thankful for all the good gifts God gives us and come to Him when our hearts are hurting. We definitely don’t always understand why God allows certain things but I do know He loves us and He is faithful to all His promises, and He will carry us in our strength and in our weakness. 


               






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19 comments:

Randi said...

I think of Joseph often and how his life changed mine. I am thinking of you all.

Jennifer said...

This is beautiful Gillian

Susan Hicks said...

Beautiful pictures of your beautiful family. I never knew Joseph but he captured my heart and I prayed for him as hard as I’ve ever prayed for anything. He was a beautiful boy!💖

Bradley Clapp said...

I'm a late comer to the Taaffe family, so this is new news to me. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us on this anniversary. God is good, and you know that truth in a way that most of us don't or won't. May his face shine upon you this day, and give you peace.

Allen and Gillian said...

Randi, you are such a sweet encouragement. Thank you for praying for Joseph and us!

Allen and Gillian said...

Thanks Jennifer. 😘

Allen and Gillian said...

Thank you, Susan. 😘

Allen and Gillian said...

Thanks, Bradley.

katie said...

Gillian, this is beautifully written. Thank you for being so vulnerable and sharing your heart😘.

katie said...

I realized I didn’t sign in right, it’s Katie Moessner 🤗

Melanie said...

So transparent and raw and beautiful . . . it ministers to me today. Thanks for sharing. Praying for your family.

Ruthie said...

I'm so glad you took this anniversary as an opportunity to write about your family's journey with profound loss and God's faithfulness in the midst of it. Besides the fact that I just love you, Gil, Joseph's story captivated, horrified and ministered to me so much because our first born sons were so close in age. My Lincoln just turned 14 on July 2. I prayed so much for Joseph and for your family in those hard months, and have watched with extreme gratitude to see so much LIFE coming out of his story. It anchors my soul with hope to the Father. If someone can survive what I feel like would be the worst imaginable thing by clinging to Jesus, then I'm gonna keep on clinging, too!

I love your family, Gillian. I remember VERY WELL the days when we were roomies and you had such a crush on Allen! Looks like you picked a good one! ;)

Allen and Gillian said...

Thanks Katie! You have been such a faithful friend. So thankful for you.

Allen and Gillian said...

Ruthanne!! So good to hear from you. I didn’t know your oldest was the same age as Joseph. Oh yes, you remember the crushing. Ha ha! Yep, he’s definitely a good gift from God.
I remember us reading Oswald Chambers aloud at night from our lofts and lots of silly laughter too. Thanks for writing!

Brea said...

Gillian, I loved hearing your heart of trust in God through many years of pain and gratefulness for His faithfulness to you, and all the ways He has continued to show his goodness. Love you and miss you. Happy birthday sweet Joseph. ❤️

Allen and Gillian said...

Thanks, Brea. Miss you, sweet friend!

Dean Crowe said...

So precious. Tears flowing. Joe P! Thank you for sharing him with us. Our lives are richer, our faith stronger, our grief real but not debilitating and the hope of heaven sustains us. How can Joe P be 14?! He is such a part of the very fiber of Rally who is only 13. Hugs and lots of love to you and your sweet family.

Allen and Gillian said...

Thank you Dean! We love Rally and are so grateful for your awesome work.

Allen and Gillian said...

Thanks Mel!