At the intersection of writing and life with the author of the Cameron Ballack mysteries

Sunday, November 23, 2014

From Father to Son

My dear precious Jordan,

Six years have gone by since the last time I held you in my arms. Six years of thoughts, tears, warm memories, and all other emotions. I've shared so many things about you to others, written about you, and from time to time have wished that you could come back--even for a few minutes that we might have together. The final wish is, of course, impractical although I think it's understandable. But there is one river I've never crossed, although my journey toward it has been building for some time. And that tributary is to tell you the things I never got to share while you were with us.

You crashed-landed into my life at a time when I was weary yet comfortable. It was the day we moved to Florida when Mom found out that night that you were on the way. I said "comfortable" earlier because I thought we were done having children. And having another boy meant the possibilities of one with the challenges that your big brother continues to face. Yet the pregnancy test didn't lie. You shook up my world--our world--but it was in a way we desperately needed.

And I was weary. Mom and I were both coming up on 36 years of age. I had run my course with being a pastor in North Carolina and was running on fumes. I was still in healthy adulthood and had the tepid energy reserves of old age. My body, my heart, and my soul were shot.

And at that point...something akin to what the Scriptures say, "in the fullness of time" came. You came with a silent cry and flailing limbs and a NICU residence with a reflux problem that we had to fix with surgery when you were a few weeks old. And of course, myotubular myopathy, just like Joshua.

That was the time when I felt God throw away an emotional anchor and thus liberated my heart. Your smile, your feistiness, your adorability (if that can be a word) gave light to my soul. Yes, there were many reasons why the days of your life might have been physically draining. Joshua's spine surgery and recovery, lack of sleep for Mom and I, scrambling to land a new job and ending up in St. Louis. Sometimes I wonder how we lived through the challenges, but you rolled with it. Not to mention you loved getting extra snuggles with Mom or I when you could.

I shake my head to think what you'd be like now. Given how much you loved to pull Lindsay's hair or knock her block towers over, or covertly pull Joshua's velcro shoe straps, or sneak down the hallway when Mom or I weren't looking...I imagine you'd spend a fair bit of school time in the principal's office. "Now, Jordan, why did you make the toilet seats explode?" I think that if you saw a blow torch, some baking soda, and a bungee cord, you'd find some path to constructive mischief. I'd like to think you're doing that now in Heaven.

But one memory comes to the fore above all others. It was soon after you learned to walk in October, just a month before God took you home. It was an evening in which I lay sprawled on my back on the floor. There was much activity going on, but for whatever reason you made a beeline to me. Gently but firmly, you head butted me. You loved head butts. Then you "tackled" me with all the reserves of what strength you had and I tumbled on my back, with your head dropping onto my chest with a muffled "whump" against my sternum. I tickled you in your ribs, with you making your squeaky little laughs. 

And then I patted you on the back, saying, "Jordan, I need to get up." I would lift myself up off the ground and put a hand on the floor to push myself to my feet.

Your reaction? You'd collapse onto my chest and "pin" me back on the floor.

We'd do this three or four times. Each time, you wouldn't let me go, pinning me to the floor. And finally, I'd look at you and say, "Jordan, Daddy's not going to leave you."

And how big was your smile? Full moon on a summer night doesn't even begin to describe it. Followed by the biggest bear hug you could muster.

Looking back on those sacred moments now brings me pain, but it's what one could call a good pain. You showed both the tenacity of holding on to God and the unrestrained joy we should feel when we know God loves us totally.

Your grandpa (my dad) said something soon after you went to be with Jesus. He said, "Thanksgiving will always be different for you now. Yet in deep grief we can still find massive grace."

You, my son, brought so much grace into my life. You opened my eyes, gave light to my heart, and you reflected your name so well.

Jordan Christopher. Literally, one who comes down and brings Jesus.

Thank you, my son, for making an old man feel young again, for showing the unfettered wind in the sails of your soul, for proving that the weakest among us are the strongest of spirit...

...and for the greatest gift of all: For teaching me more about the tenacious and tender love of God in nineteen months than I had learned in all of my life before. 

Thank you, my son whom I love, for being true to your name, for coming down for even a short life as you had, and bringing Jesus to me.

I love you,

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