Updated: Feb 27
On February 28, 2022, I turn 42. That is such an insignificant birthday to celebrate, but it will be my first without Ben. When I turned 41, he was here. All my boys were here. I still want all of my boys here.
The other wild coincidence related to this birthday is that the dates repeat just like they did 8 months ago.
Saturday was June 26th – the day we took Ben to the hospital, twice. This Saturday is the 26th.
Sunday was June 27th – the day we received fatal news which resulted in Ben dying in our arms that evening. This Sunday is the 27th.
Monday was June 28th – the first morning I tried to take a breath and I knew Ben would not – he was in a morgue in Denver and would be transported to Sterling. This Monday is the 28th and it is my birthday.
This weekend, my mind is stuck on repeat. 26, 27, 28…. 26, 27, 28….26, 27, 28. Maybe it is because I was a math geek as a kid. Maybe I am not doing a good job of taking every thought captive. Maybe it is because God created time as the very first words of Scripture, “In the beginning,” therefore, establishing time as a marker.
Maybe, it is just because… with no rhyme or reason.
If we could back up a few days in June, to the 24th you would know that we were having what I have called “The Last Good Day,” and I even titled it that in my entry in Ben’s journal. “You woke up feeling substantially better – smiling, laughing, talking, eating.”
That was Ben and Waitley on Thursday, June 24th. This doesn’t look like a little boy who would die three days later.
My oldest, Jake, and my youngest, Ben. Both smiling. Only one still alive.
Just three short days later, my baby boy was dead in my arms.
I don’t know how such a significant thing can happen in just three short days, until I look to the cross. Jesus was beaten, mocked, crucified and died a horrific death, tortured beyond recognition, and three days later he broke free from those chains of death and was resurrected.
I cannot tell you how desperately I pleaded as I held my Ben in my arms for him to be resurrected.
Roy and I went from daydreaming about his future and the chaos the little squirt added to our brood of boys to planning his funeral. Picking out his casket. Picking out his clothes (which we had to do twice). Picking out pictures. Picking out people to include in the service. Picking out songs. But, in reality, I just wanted to pick up Ben.
I felt a physical change in my being as I completely ceased to carry that boy around on my hip. My arms felt physically empty. My lips dried out for a month because I was no longer licking my lips to slobber kisses all over his little face.
I loved loving him… even when he was grumpy, and tired, and all done being in the branding pen.
I have come up with every question imaginable. I have challenged every decision. But I still can’t tell you, “Why?” I knew this truth and even spoke about it at Ben’s service, but that doesn’t mean I don’t ask it.
It just means that I will never get a satisfying answer. God’s ways are higher than my ways. He is sovereign. PERIOD. He owes us no explanation.
And if you think you are going to get to heaven and shake your first at God, it is high time you spend more time in the Word of God and learn about heaven and the depth of God’s character. Being in the mere presence of Jesus and God the Father will be such a balm to my soul. I will also get to see Ben.
One day at the grave I was yelling at God. Really, deep-moaning, pleading with God and I needed to know why my son wasn’t six feet above ground, but instead in a dark box below me. God so gently reminded me that Ben “was always mine.” This made James 1:17 so loud – Ben was a “good and perfect gift from above.” I could have been like Jacob and had my hip pop out of socket as I wrestled with God. But instead I kneeled over my baby’s grave and was reminded that Ben was such a gift.
I would have rather had those precious 26 months with him AND this grief, than to have never known him at all. Ben added an immeasurable amount of joy to our life. The hole in my heart is Ben-shaped, Ben-sized and reserved for Ben.
I am called to walk out this grief. My question to God, is not really, “Why did You take Ben?” anymore, but “Why did You give me this calling and how do I bring You glory in it?” I don’t think I’ll still ever know why He gave Roy and I this calling, but I do believe He continues to reveal to us how we can glorify Him.
8 months feels like eternity. 35 weeks. 245 days. I continue to look at life on a continuum. I am 8 months away from the last time I held my child and I am also 8 months closer to heaven. I have never been more homesick for heaven in my life.
There is still hope in the hard. I believe that with everything I am. Jesus gives me hope. My husband reminds me of hope. Jake, Matt and Waitley remind me of hope. Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us that the Lord “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I may look like a hopeless wretch right now (I actually really do – mascara-stained face and all), but by His amazing love we are doing the impossible with grace.
I cannot accept it as truth that June 24th was my “last good day” of my entire life. There is still good ahead of us. Roy and I hope to watch our boys grow and become mighty warriors for God’s kingdom. We hope to look at them as they stand up at the alter passionately awaiting their brides. We hope to hold our grandbabies and invest in their spiritual and physical well-beings. But, also, if the Lord chooses to take every last person I love away from me and hold them in heaven before I get there, then I will still praise His holy name. It is absolutely hopeless without Him.
As tears stream down my face, I am sincerely praying that if you are reading this that the Lord will use it for your good and His glory. I pray that if you’ve never admitted you were a sinner, trusted that the Lord died for your sins, and accepted him as your Savior, that you would plead with everything within you for the gift of salvation. The only role you play is to admit and accept. Jesus has done everything else you need to spend eternity with him, with me, and with Ben (and the millions of others that have gone before us).
I hope you join us there! I’m one day closer. Are you?
May Ben’s face remind you that Jesus is patiently waiting for you, but may it also remind you that one day it will truly be too late.