Today, October 14th, would be my sweet Ezra James' first birthday. My first precious child. The beautiful baby boy I got to love and carry for 9 joyful months. In some ways it feels like just yesterday we were in that hospital room cuddling our son and in other ways it seems like an eternity ago that we had to let him go. Those days we spent at the hospital were some of the most difficult days I have ever walked through. There is nothing that can prepare you for the news that your sweet child is gone. But as I think back to those days, I also remember the awe of holding this beautiful baby boy the Lord had so carefully and intricately formed within me.
As we handed our sweet baby Ezra to our nurse and forced ourselves to walk out of Salem Hospital, we had no idea the path the Lord had ahead of us. In those initial moments all you can think about is surviving. I can honestly tell you that I have never had a year in my life where I have had to run to Jesus and cling to Him more so than this one. So many moments of praying, trusting, and learning how to remember the joy amidst so much pain. This year has taught me so much about loving without holding back, even if it means it may hurt. We could choose to walk through life holding back our emotions or love for fear of experiencing pain, but that would be robbing the Lord of the joy He wants to give us when we love. I loved Ezra so deeply in those 9 months and, though it hurts so much to have lost him, I would never trade the time I spent with him. Those 9 months of complete happiness were worth it and the love that grew and grew during that pregnancy will never go away.
As we have navigated the intense season of grief this past year, we have felt the Lord walking so closely and intimately with us. Grief is a process that cannot be rushed and marked by so many moments of remembering and continuing to love. It has taught me so much about the value of a life, no matter how long or short it may be. Though I wouldn't have chosen for Ezra's life to have been so brief, I know that his 9 months here on earth had purpose and continue to have purpose. His little life has touched people in ways I had never imagined.
Like any expecting Mom and Dad, we had so many dreams of what Ezra's life would be like. We had dreamt about what he would look like, what personality he would have, what would be his strengths and weaknesses, what would interest him. One of our biggest dreams was always about how God would use our son. I prayed those 9 months that my son's life, above all else, would point others to the Lord. That is what drew us to his name. In Nehemiah, Ezra brought the people back to God's scriptures and pointed them back to the Lord. We loved that his name meant "helper". Though I had anticipated years and years of growing with Ezra and seeing the ways God would use him during a lifetime lived, I am so thankful that we have opportunities to see how his sweet little life is being used to minister and how he truly is a "helper" from up in Heaven. There will never be an answer for why we lost Ezra so soon, but it gives me so much comfort to see how his life will continue to be used and was completely worth it.
The Lord has blessed us in so many ways this year. So many people have walked this road so intimately with us and have shown us such compassionate love. We have been blown away by the ways people have given financially to help us pay off our medical and funeral expenses and gave us the opportunity to have a beautiful headstone put in at BelCrest Cemetery to remember our sweet Ezra by. We are so thankful for the relationships that God has blessed us with. Family and friends who have cried with us, prayed with us, celebrated the little moments and allowed us to remember and talk about our baby boy. And the biggest blessing of this year is that the Lord so graciously blessed with a precious baby girl to be with us on this journey of grieving our first child. Her little growing life has brought so much joy and hope during these difficult moments and has taught us even more about depending on and trusting the Lord. In less than two weeks we will be back at the hospital meeting this sweet baby girl. All we can say is that God is SO good.
As I walk through this birthday weekend, there are definitely tears and an overwhelming amount of emotions, but through all of it there is also peace. A peace that I can trust God and lean on him, even in moments I don't understand. Though I would love for this 1st birthday to be filled with memories of our sweet baby boy perhaps taking his first steps, cutting a new tooth, smashing his first birthday cake, and getting ready to meet his baby sister, I am trusting the Lord, knowing that He is using our sweet little son. What better place could there be to celebrate your first birthday than in the arms of our precious Savior? We love you so much, sweet Ezra James, and are so thankful you were and always will be our first baby. Happy Birthday, sweet baby boy.