Bittersweet Days of Remembrance

I’m thinking about a tow headed little boy with a smile that lit up the room and laughter so infectious that no one could keep a straight face when he started in on it.

Justin remains my first born, the eldest of three by birth and five by marriage. His life filled with moments of anguish and sorrow surrounding his father’s abandonment and absence throughout much of his life. He will be in my heart forever. A piece of me went on to heaven with him seven years ago today. I loved that boy fierce, and no one… And I do mean no one could get my dander up but good like he could. He must have been every bit of me if I had been born a boy.

His life filled with curiosity and adventure. He never missed a moment to explore and examine – though often those exploits landed him in hot water. He had a brilliant mind and a devastated heart. His heart full of wounds created by an absent father and a broken mother. Wounds that never quite healed before he made his journey home.

I sit here today without tears or sorrow. But, with a heart full of memories and deep with gratitude for the life God gave me through that child, and even more so through his earthly passing. Seven years ago today, not much earlier than this moment I sit here now, I kissed the freckled, suntanned cheek of my firstborn son. I said to him of the radioactive dye that had just been injected into his veins, “When you get back you’re going to glow in the dark.”

I watched the medical team wheel him out of the room to have a series of test that would provide definitive answers. Either his situation indeed had gone to the worst case scenario or his situation had improved. I knew in my heart he had already left us in spirit, but we needed the surety of the tests to move forward in saying goodbye.

The last words I believe he heard me say were, “I love you, Justin. If you feel strong enough… Then fight, we want you back. But if you are tired and ready, then go on to heaven – Jesus is waiting for you on the other side.”

Those memories and moments though bittersweet, are some of the truest moments of my life. Moments when God became bigger and more personal than I ever imagined Him to be. Moments when my heart shattered into pieces and then found its way to wholeness again. Moments when regret gave way to grace and love overcame a multitude of sins. I am blessed, and know that my God is for me even in the midst of the storm.

4 thoughts on “Bittersweet Days of Remembrance

  1. I will never forget that day. I was there with you as was most of the family. I can’t imagine having to make that decision and having to be that strong. What a journey you have been on. Great job Cousin you have been an inspiration to many. Justins’ memory is alive and lives on. What a beautiful testimony of faith…God bless you cousin…Love you.

    1. Thank you, Beverly. I know all of us lost Justin that day. So many people loved him and cared for us during that time. I have not forgotten. 🙂 I love you, too. God showed me a long time ago that part of Justin’s legacy is the testimony of our family’s journey through grief to healing. He is still leading people to Jesus just as you have said. 🙂

      Love you,

  2. Thank you for letting us join you in remembrance. What a testimony of faith and God’s goodness.
    Bless you my friend! Wish I was close enough to give you a hug!

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