Today, you would have been celebrating your birthday. It’s hard to believe so much time has passed that you’d be in your mid 50’s. I usually recognize your birthday, and then try not to think about it much. Avoidance has been my way of coping with your and Jamie’s “dates”…birthdays and last days. I have your tender heart, and these days are usually too much for me to dwell on.
Your suicide wrecked me, and I used to carry that burden every single day. I was supposed to be able to trust you. When I learned that you’d left me, the world became a very scary place. I didn’t trust anyone, not even God. You gave me life, but in a way, you also took it away. You thought you weren’t lovable, worthy, or needed…I wish you knew how important you were. A mother’s love and presence are one-and-only.
My story has been transformed over the last five years, though. Sitting in a church service a few weeks ago, I heard the preacher talking to the congregation about how so many of us were carrying emotional and spiritual baggage. It hit me in the best way that I can’t relate to that anymore. I was now a spectator, where I was once a serious participant. I don’t carry the weight of your life and your death anymore. I am free. Hallelujah! I have been held and healed by God, my Savior, my Rock, my Redeemer. His love is a healing balm to my heart’s greatest wound. I laid my anger and hurt and abandonment down at the foot of the Almighty. He saved me from my own sin, and He freed my heart from the consequences of yours.
I’m still sad, though, for you. No person should ever have to feel that her life isn’t worth living, but you did. You endured worse pain in your short life that I could even fathom. I grieve for you that you never had the chance to be healed by the One who speaks love and worth into your heart. I don’t know what your relationship to Jesus was, but I hope He is holding you now.
I wish you could see me now, Mom. You’ve missed so much. My grand slam in third grade, my middle school dances and the time I went to state for shot put, how I excelled in all things art and crafts (you passed that down!), my graduation from high school, my first date and first kiss (yes, they came after high school), my graduation from college where I finished #6 in my class. I did all that without you, but it wasn’t easy. I thank God for the man you married. My dad’s heart is tender, his back is strong, and despite his own heartache, he was with me every step of the way. And the woman he asked to raise me after you’d gone…boy, is she a force to be reckoned with. She’s carried the weight of your choices with grace and mercy. You see, Mom, what Satan worked in your life, Jesus redeemed at the cross. The LORD was working out my salvation long before the world began. I wish you could see what He’s done in my life through Jesus, my family, and my friends.
I know you’d be proud of your girl. I made it through. I married a man of God, and although we’ve struggled, we didn’t give up. I brought the most beautiful baby boy into the world. I was afraid I wouldn’t be a good mom because I was so broken, but if there’s one thing your life taught me, it’s that I am irreplaceable. My love for Josiah is important, worthy, and needed.
I wish we could bake you a cake today. I wish you could see Josiah, snuggle him close, and let him help you blow out the candles. He has your crazy big eyebrows and your sweet dimples. I’m sorry that you’re missing out on him. I am thinking of you today, and I hope you do see how well things worked out in my life. I hope that you have peace from the torment you endured here. I hope that my testimony about you and about Jesus can be a beacon of light to others who, like you, see only one way out of their pain. If you would have given Jesus a chance, He would have healed you, too. My birthday gift to you is my faithfulness to Christ and my commitment to tell others about His healing mercy.
Happy Birthday, Deborah Ann. You mattered. I love you still.