After having three baby boys within four years, Matt and I ceased to have the ability to finish sentences or call our children by their given names. Our little fellas became accustomed to answering to “A-Jus-El-um-um-COME-HERE-BUDDY!” Having more than three children didn’t seem to make sense to us since obviously, we were no longer making sense.
When those three little boys were ages 5, 2, and 6 months – my mom was diagnosed with ALS. Thus began a journey in our lives that was filled with grief, pain, and hardship as we traveled back and forth to Kansas to be with Mom as often as we could during the next 22 months. If I couldn’t get my act together before, I certainly couldn’t even find my act during this time.
I remember crying out to God during one of my lowest points, just a few months before she died. It had been a year and a half since her diagnosis, and she was failing quickly. Knowing that we were soon going to lose her, I fell on my knees and asked God to help me find joy again. He listened. He heard. And He answered. Just a few weeks later, we were shocked to find out that we were expecting baby number four. Now that was a surprise we had not anticipated! Indeed, we were filled with joy.
We were able to share the news with Mom (who was convinced that we would surely have a girl this time). Suddenly all of us – my dad, my brother, all of us – had a reason to smile. We had something to look forward to! God is so much fun. Little did we know how this baby would continue to be the perfect blessing we would all need during the coming months.
When I was about four months into the pregnancy, Mom finished her race. We were relieved, sad, grateful, devastated, and exhausted. We all began a new journey of life without her – enduring that year of “firsts” that families experience when they lose someone. The first birthday without her. The first Mother’s Day. The first Thanksgiving. The first Christmas.
Oh, Christmas. Mom loved Christmas. How would we ever have Christmas without her? Should we try to carry on the same traditions she loved? Should we plan the same menu? Should we have Christmas at Dad’s or would it be too painful and empty without her there?
As it turns out, the new baby we were expecting answered all the questions for us. On December 20 (nine years ago today), our fourth baby boy was born. It was decided that all of the family would come to Nebraska to meet him and to celebrate Christmas in our home. We would eat whatever we found in my freezer and we would keep the holiday simple. That sweet baby boy was just what we all needed to be able to smile through our tears as we shared our first Christmas without Mom.
Happy 9th Birthday, Malachi Mark! God gifted you to us, bringing us tremendous joy and hope. May you always allow yourself to be used by God to be a blessing to others.