If we’re not careful, we can find ourselves being better parents to the children we’ve lost than we are to the ones who live under our roof. Luke will always seem innocent, sweet and sinless in our eyes. It’s easy to be patient with him. And we never have to feel the weight of our own failures with him, since he is beyond them.
But we have four beautiful, healthy kids. And this too is sweet mercy. There’s not much time around here for marinating in our sadness. It will leak out in tears over the coming months and years, but it will not consume us. The kids don’t understand the loss of their brother, though they ask with wonder about where the baby has gone, and accept without question that he is with Jesus and we will meet him again. Our five-year-old son always tells people we have six children in our family, but that two of them died in Mommy’s tummy. (Yes … awkward.) And then the next minute they’re oblivious and rolling on the floor in a pile of boyness and snorts and laughter.
It was easier to speak softly to them in the few days after Luke’s birth. Life’s fragility was very near then and the thought of losing any of them, even as a distant worry, was like a punch in the stomach. Cleaning up their messes, breaking up their fights, wiping their wet noses… these seem wonderful when thrown up against the possibility of being without them. But as the wound heals and becomes less raw, will it be easy to forget our awe that we have four little lives just as precious as the two we lost? Will it be easy for gratitude to give way to entitlement? Will it be easy to raise our voices impatiently as four sinful little people exhaust us without mercy and step all over our comforts?
Please, God, don’t waste this loss. Teach us. Help us to love our children well.