This week has been our Celebration of Life Week. It is an observance we keep each year. It is something we started seven years ago on the first birthday of Tanzen. We wanted to celebrate her special day of course, but for us there was a lot more wrapped up in it than a birthday party.
Tanzen’s birth was surrounded by a series of events which shook us deeply. The day before she was born we were driving to the mall to do some walking, hoping it would induce labor. We never made it however, since we were involved in a car accident on Highway 169. It was not a life threatening accident, but we were told we needed to go to the hospital because of Crystal’s pregnancy. While there she went into labor and Tanzen was born safely.
However, hours later, Crystal suffered a massive stroke. She lost control of the right side of her body, lost consciousness, and was immediately rushed through a series of tests to determine what to do. While family and friends prayed for us around the world, God used the expertise of many doctors, nurses, and specialists to treat the blood clot in her brain. Crystal began to make her recovery in the days and weeks following the stroke.
Those moments changed how we view life, birth, death, and ourselves. Each year we think back to those days in the dark and praise God for his protection.
And then we added Grant. Six years later he was born on the day after Tanzen’s birthday. His birth was filled with its own set of difficulties. High risk pregnancy appointments with specialists in Minnesota and Spain. Daily shots. Fear of the unknown. There were many times of weeping before he appeared. We had no idea what would happen.
And then we added Mia. She was born three years before Grant, and just two days before Tanzen’s birthday. We were not there. We don’t know where she was born. We do not know the joys or fears that surrounded the event. Even if we had been in the room we would have never been able to know what was being said or what was going. And then we missed her first birthday, and her second, and her third, and just barely got her before her fourth. We missed so much time.
It is a strange celebration, this week. We celebrate God’s protection and goodness. We thank God for another year. We remember anew his care for us.
But we also grieve. There are the normal songs and gifts, cake and laughter. But behind those good things there is a sadness. Every day is like a heavy weight around our souls.
I wake up each morning and write a letter to the person whose day we are celebrating. Mia on the 8th, Crystal on the 9th, Tanzen on the 10th, and Grant on the 11th. I try to tell them their story again, and point out how I see Jesus at work in it during the past year. I weep. And yet I hope. There is a grief which I feel for each of them, but a great relief when I look to Jesus who loves them more.
Maybe in some way that weight we feel on our souls is a rich treasure. Perhaps it is a chest of gold wrapped in dirty rags. We feel it. We grieve its presence and resent its reminder as we haul it around, day after day. But when we stop and examine it we realize we are rich.
This week is a strange week. We laugh and celebrate. But each day begins, and normally ends, with tears. It is our yearly reminder to number our days (Psalm 90:12).