Eight years ago, I was handing over my newborn son to my sister and brother-in-law at Wake Medical. Kim got in the hospital bed, cuddled with Ty, ate my roast beef and enjoyed all the moments of being a new mom without birthing a child. She said it was the easiest birth ever!
On February 16, 2008, I slid into a wheelchair and was off to Duke Hospital. It was Meredith’s first birthday. She had a big surgery on Ty’s birthday and she was barely holding on. I could not wait to get back to her. I’ll never forget that day. She laid there in the PICU with tubes and machines connected to her while we sang Happy Birthday. I had no idea at that moment that this would be the only birthday I would ever have with her. I remember thanking God that I could hold her again that day. I had been so pregnant throughout her sickness and it was so hard to hold her. My back would hurt and I was so afraid I would mess up the machines or tubes. But, that day, I sat with her in my arms for four hours straight. She also opened her eyes that after 3 long days. It was just like the old days when we just cuddled on the couch and napped together. On Mer’s birthday, I held her, and loved on her. It was a joyous day indeed!
Today Meredith would be 9 years old. A friend asked me, “doesn’t it get easier as time goes on?” I don’t think easier is how I would describe it. Each year I remember my loss and her gain. On this day, I grieve and laugh. I wrestle with God and His plan. I wonder what she would be like--what we would all be like if she were alive.
All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:3-5 (ESV)
Having Ty the day before Mer’s birthday was the brightest light God could have ever given me. I think about the moment that I looked in his precious little eyes and I knew I had to make it no matter what. He was going to need me to be strong and be whole. The day he was born was a physical reminder that God was good.
When I tell people my story now, they always say, “you are so strong! I could have never lived through that. I’m not like you. I can’t do it!” None of these statements are true. I am not strong and I am nothing special. Every obstacle I have overcome and every impactful step I have made has come from Jesus, the light in me. John 1:3-5 is a powerful reminder that in the midst of darkness there is still light. Every day of Meredith’s sickness and on this day every year I feel the tug of darkness. It comes on strong, but no amount of darkness can ever devour the light within me.
Today, I celebrate the goodness of God, the mercy He showed me and the strength He has given me. I celebrate the restoration and refinement that has taken place in my life. But, more than anything, I celebrate the life of a little girl who was a light to so many.
Happy 9th Birthday my sweet Mer Mer. Someday I won’t shed a tear because I will be holding you in my arms again.