It seems like just yesterday I was sitting up in the ER hospital bed. I was holding you darling, desperately trying to soak up every detail of your tiny frame. Even though I know that what I was holding was just a shell of all that God had made you to be, I knew it was all I would have of you on this side of eternity and I didn’t want to miss a thing.
I counted your fingers and toes over and over and over again.
I ran my left index finger across your sweet, soft cheeks. You were resting in the palm of my right hand.
I stared at your tiny, pink lips — your mouth was open —and it looked like you were singing.
I remember thinking how fitting that was, because the name we had chosen for you means “Sing Praise to the Lord.” I love imagining that as your heart stopped beating on this earth, you were ushered into the loving arms of Christ with a song of praise on your lips.
I held you close and cradled you with both hands trying to make sure you were warm as I whispered a chorus of “I love you’s” into your ears. Even though I know you didn’t need a thing, all of my instincts just wanted to mother you. My heart longed to be filling these precious moments by taking care of you.
But my time with you ended so much sooner than I would have like as I needed to go in for surgery. I gently handed your beautiful body to the nurse and watched as she walked away with you…knowing that I would never lay eyes on you again on this earth.
It seems like just yesterday… and it seems like forever.
Has it really been a year since you went home?
“I’m sorry. There’s no heartbeat.”
It wasn’t the first time I had heard those painful words. And it certainly wasn’t any easier the second time around.
It wasn’t easier to imagine life without you.
It wasn’t easier to call your daddy and tell him that you were no longer with us.
It wasn’t easier to sit, alone, in the exam room waiting to talk through our options with the doctor.
But, my precious one, it was easier to trust.
Having gone through this heartache before when we lost your brother eight months earlier, the Lord had been faithfully drawing our hearts nearer to His own. And although it never would have been my choice to hear those five excruciating words for the second time, I knew that your absence would be filled by an even greater sense of His perfect presence.
I had experienced that in increasing measure during the months in between saying goodbye to Simeon, and learning that we would also be saying goodbye to you. And dear one, I have continued to know and experience the Lord in deeper and more meaningful ways over the course of this past year.
So although today marks one year since I learned that I would not have the chance to watch you grow, it also marks one year of greater fellowship with my Savior.
Through your short life on earth and the lessons that I have learned through the agony of losing you, God has been teaching my heart to sing in ways that I would not be capable of without having known this sorrow.
“He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.”
And day by day God has been revealing new layers of this song in the furthest recesses of my soul. As I have become more intensely gripped by His greatness, so has this song in my mouth broken forth in praise to our God in exceeding measure.
My Odelle, a year ago I could never imagine myself uttering these words, but I now know them to be unshakably true:
You going home to be with the Lord was a greater gift than you coming home with me.
Don’t get me wrong. I can’t tell you how many times I have longed to hold you in my arms again, to smell the sweetness of your breath, and hear the sound of your laughter. There hasn’t been a day that has gone by in this past year that I have not missed you greatly.
But as much as I desire to be with you, I would not choose to change what God has done in my life. I would not give up the knowing of this new song that has been placed in my heart. Because as dear as you are and always will be to me, He must be dearer still.
And so, my little one, I can say with sincerity that I have greater joy now than I did a year ago. And since you are no stranger to the joys of His perfect presence I know you will agree with me.
It has been a hard year.
But it has also been a great one.
And now, we are one year closer.
I love you,
“I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
and He turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
out of the mud and the mire,
He set my feet on solid ground
and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what He has done and be amazed.
They will put their trust in the Lord.
Oh, the joys of those who trust the Lord!”