I can’t possibly find the perfect, concluding words to say to you in this final letter. But I don’t think it will be my final letter, actually, because I think that you have made such an impact on me that I will be writing to you for years to come. So here is what I want to say to you today, my love.
Today, I imagine you as a little four year old boy. You and I are walking along the streets of our neighborhood, stopping to pick up good walking sticks or to look at a cool bug or to throw some rocks in the pond. We are talking about life and bugs and sticks, and like all curious little kids, you are asking me about a thousand questions that all start with the word, “Why?”
I feel like that same little four year old today, buddy. My world has been shattered, and as I look at all the little pieces I still hold in my hands, I have so many questions that start with “why” and so many wonderings that I would love to ask our Heavenly Father. For instance…
I don’t know why you were even sick in the first place. I don’t know why you had to be the baby whose mitochondria didn’t work correctly, and therefore your brain tissue started to die, and therefore you couldn’t smile at us, babble and coo at your grandparents, reach out for toys with our friends, sit up and play with your aunts and uncles, or try to crawl after Marty and his waggly tail. I don’t know why we had to spend days with you in the hospital with tubes in your nose and IVs in your tiny, little arms. I don’t know why you didn’t get to enjoy all the yummy flavors this world has to offer, and instead, we fed you through a plastic tube. I don’t know why this disease, the one you had, does not have a cure.
I don’t know why you’re gone. We just left your body at the cemetery a few hours ago, and it seemed so wrong to leave you there and drive away from you. It seems so wrong that you haven’t been in your nursery these past few mornings just waiting for me to come and pick you up and looking at me with the brightest and deepest blue eyes I have ever seen, with that sparkle in them that was the closest thing to a smile you ever gave us. It seems so wrong to have to put away all of your toys, seats, and swings, to take your car seat out of our car and put it up in the attic. It seems so wrong to not get to hold you anymore, to kiss your squishy lips and smell your sweet scent, my baby’s scent. The only place that still smells like you is your “puppy bed” where you spent so much time in these final days, and I dread the day that I bend down and breathe in only to find your scent has faded.
I don’t know why you were taken so soon before we could make the memories we wanted. It seems wrong that we didn’t even get to show you Christmas tree lights – you would have loved their bright, sparkly twinkles. It seems wrong that we won’t get to celebrate your first birthday and watch you smear cake all over your face. It seems wrong that we won’t get to go hunting for bugs and sticks to make swords or that we won’t run next to you down our street as you learn to ride a bike or that we won’t take your picture on the front step on your first day of Kindergarten.
I don’t know why we don’t get to see you grow up. We won’t get to practice your spelling words with you at the kitchen table, chaperone your field trips or watch you play sports or leave on your first date. There are thousands of things we won’t get to do here with you, Tage, thousands of questions I have for Jesus when I see Him face to face someday, thousands of things that I just don’t know…
But in the midst of all the whys, and the hurt, and the deep ache in my heart today, my sweet boy, I want you to know that there are many true things I do know.
I know that you are the greatest gift I have ever been given. From the moment I knew you existed, I loved you. I loved carrying you for nine months and awaiting your arrival with such joy and expectation. I loved getting to finally hold you in my arms 12 hours after you were born and to feel the deepest sense of love and safety I had ever known as I held you close to my heart for the first time while a knot formed in my throat. I could barely contain myself. I knew that I would forever protect you and defend you and sacrifice myself for you.
I know that I loved rocking together in your room in the middle of the night, listening to your tiny sighs, catching little glimpses of your sleepy eyes as you would open and close them and soaking up the moments of just you and me. I loved praying over you during those quiet mid-night meetings, knowing Jesus was right there with us smiling in those moments, too, and that my mom, your Muv, was watching us proudly. I know you’ve met her by now. Isn’t she the best? She was the one who taught me what love is in the first place.
I know that I have learned more about God because of you, Tage. I see how He loves us now, with the deep and over-flowing love of a parent. I see that just how you were not able to do anything to make us love you more (no smiles, no noises, no silly interactions, nothing to brag about that would make other parents jealous), we still loved you more than ourselves, more than we can even express. You did nothing that would make us love you more or less. We just loved you with everything we had because you were ours. And that is how the Lord feels about me, and about everyone on this earth. He doesn’t care if we’re looking at Him or not, loving Him back or not, doing things for Him or not…He loves us because we are His. And nothing we do could make Him love us more or less. He loves me like that, and He loves you like that, Little Tager Tot.
Most of all, my baby, I know that because of this love of God’s, this is not the end of the story. Of our story. He doesn’t want to be separated from us, His children, either, so He made a way for us to spend eternity with Him. He sent His first child, a son, Jesus, to die for us, to bridge the gap between our sin and His perfect love. It was the greatest gift He could possibly give us. And all we have to do is except the gift. We don’t have to smile at Him, coo and babble at Him, or do anything that would make Him more proud of us. We just accept it, because He can’t help but love us. We are His kids.
I know that while I ache for you, Tage Thomas, I WILL see you again. I don’t understand all the details of what’s to come, but I do know that Jesus is making all things new. When He returns to earth, death will raise it’s white flag. He will defeat death, and it will be no more. He will restore this broken earth to way it was meant to be, and He will live among us. We have never known anything like the joy we will have on that day! Heaven will be here, because Jesus will be here. There will not be sickness, or crying, or lonliness, or anything sad. The Bible tells us that He will make a new heaven and a new earth…none of this floating on a cloud stuff with spirit bodies. No, we will have new bodies that work perfectly, and the earth will be more beautiful than we could ever imagine with none of the bad stuff like weeds, carcasses, and abandoned buildings. The Bible says that our minds couldn’t even imagine what all God has in store for us on that day. Oh, how I long for that day, Tage.
I know that on that day, I will hug you again, my boy. And we can go off on the adventures we didn’t get to have here, only they will be better. Better sticks. Cooler bugs. Greater adventures. And it won’t be just you and me, but we’ll be with all the people we love who love Jesus, too. I probably won’t even care to ask Jesus all my questions, because it will all become clear in that moment.
Oh, that moment. Yes, I grieve. I miss you, Tage, more than I can bear. I don’t know how I will make it for decades to come without you. It seems like it will be forever until I see you again. But we do not grieve as those who have no hope. Our hope is in Jesus, and because of Jesus, I WILL see you again. Yes, we lost you down here, but you are not lost. We know right where you are.
So, tell Muv I say hi. Tell Jesus thank you.
I love you, Tager.
I’ll see you soon, Buddy.