Saturday, January 12, 2013

three year birthdays & what scars represent

Today our littlest man would be three.
It's such a sweet thought. . . not as bitter as the last two years.
Healing is slow.
Much like  deep wounds, at first the grief bleeds, throbs, you don't have a life outside the all-consuming pain.
Then there's a break in the pain, there's check ups, flare-ups, maybe infection, or tearing open and sutures needed again.
But if cared for, a wound heals. 
One day, all that's left is scarring, marking what once consumed, tore, ached, changed the landscape. 
Are scars beautiful?
I don't know, maybe they are.
The scar on my soul left from losing my son, my precious little Gabe, who should be in the throes of potty-training and first real sledding trips - that scar represents so much to me.
It does have a strange kind of beauty.
That scar has taught me that life is precious.
That scar has taught me that the role people play in caring for the hurting is monumental.
It's taught me sometimes tragedy is just plain out of our control.
(I should have known that, you say.  I know, I should have.  But I didn't.)
I learned that God is truly near to the broken-hearted.
I learned that sometimes strong people don't want to live anymore, and sometimes weakness looks strong on the outside.
I learned that underneath our happy small talk, every single person struggles with something.
And healing. . . it does come.
Time heals.
It's true, it does. 
I heard someone say the other day that you don't realize how much you've healed until you look back and remember how broken you were.  I wanted to stand up and shout, yes yes yes. 
Healing looks different on everybody.  Maybe it just means you can smile.
Maybe healing is being able to breathe. 
Maybe it's just knowing it's okay to remember and not cry. 
I didn't dread Gabe's birthday this year;  it was just sweet, to look back and realize how much he changed my life.  I smiled remembering how difficult the transition from two to three children was for me.  I was exhausted. 
One of my favorite moments with Gabe was at one-thirty in the morning when he was about two months old.  He was awake, crying, and wanting to cuddle.  I was tired, sleep deprived, yet something just nudged me to savor him.  I took him downstairs, curled up in my favorite big chair and just drank him in.  I  kissed him, stroked his dark, dark hair, smelled his still-newborn scent.  I clearly remember looking out the window at the dark night and just thinking this is going to fly by.  I don't want to forget.  I want to sear this moment in my heart.  Of course I was thinking of first cars and college, not of tiny caskets or death certificates.  But God knew, and He gave me that precious moment with my little son. 
Healing is knowing that Heaven is real.
Healing is knowing here isn't the end.
Healing is knowing that the process isn't over.
Losing a child isn't something that is ever over.
Healing is embracing what the scars show. 
I'm thankful for my little son's life. 
I wouldn't wish losing a child on my worst enemy, yet I'm truly thankful for what I've learned on the grief road.
I'm so glad that three years ago little Gabriel James was born. 
Happy birthday, my sweet, sweet baby.  I love you so much.
{and just because it's his birthday. . . some of my very favorite pictures, in no particular order}


  1. What a sweet and special post as you remember your angel in heaven....

  2. Precious pictures, beautiful words....touching my heart....focussing on HEAVEN.....GAB's birthday and Karen's homegoing.....JESUS CHRIST the same yesterday, today and forever. There is more! ~~P

  3. He had the sweetest how little the kids look in the pictures. We just love your family! Happy birthing day, Hayley.

  4. Beautiful tribute. I can sincerely say that I have learned so much by watching you walk through this tragedy with such faith and transparency. I am really blessed to have you as a friend and really admire your heart!

  5. As said above, what a beautiful tribute, and as also said people learn from watching you, Hayley you have such a wonderful, beautiful talent with words, and wisdom! Such sad days we all remember, some with tears, some with laughter, and some with perplexities. Why you, why me. Why those other loving parents. But we were chosen for reasons still unknown. Our reward is heaven someday, to meet and see our beautiful angel-again. What glory THAT will be.

  6. aw Hayley.... I knew his birthday was in January cuz I always think of him as just a little older than Lauren but didn't know when till I read this post.... I hope our little angel's birthday is sweeter this year... but I don't want her to be three.

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