Two years ago today Zeke was born. I had always said I didn't really care when my kids were born but I didn't want them born around Christmas. My friends with birthdays around Christmas always got cheated out of gifts and the lime light on their birthday as kids. Nevertheless, Zeke's due date was Christmas day. When I found this out, I joked that God had a sense of humor. Never at that moment so early in my pregnancy, so early in my marriage, so early in my adult life would I have guessed the significance of that date. About halfway through my pregnancy, I found out the baby (the gender unknown at this point) would be born with special needs. That night I went home and I cried and I prayed and God put Psalm 139:13-16 on my heart. As I prayed and read I begin to feel that the baby would be a boy and his name would be Ezekiel. I found out that day that Ezekiel means "God will strengthen."
I never felt as close to God as I did on the day Zeke was born. I thought often during that Christmas season of visiting Zeke in the NICU of Mary. Although I knew Zeke did not come to save the world, I did know he had a very special purpose and I knew he would touch lives. I thought of Mary holding Jesus in the manger as I held Zeke in the NICU and she became so real to me. I emphathized with her and wondered if she felt as I felt when she looked into her baby's face and wondered about uncertainties. Knowing He was Chosen, knowing He was Special, knowing He was God's own Son, but still having the protective feelings of a mother over her child. I knew Zeke was special, I knew Zeke was chosen for a special purpose, I knew Zeke was a child of God--but I wanted to hold on to him forever.
Zeke touched so many lives in his short year. People I didn't know knew me as Zeke's mommy. His smile was contagious--maybe because we weren't sure we'd ever see his smile. Maybe because his smile offered people hope. I think when people saw Zeke smile they saw Jesus.
Parents in the special needs community have a term that we call children without special needs--"typically developing." There were so many times I'd wished Zeke was typically developing. I was tired. Tired of hospitals. Tired of feeding tubes. Tired of medications. Tired of seeing him suffer. If he were only "typically developing" then he wouldn't have to go through all of this! But God convicted me. Typically developing. Typical. Normal. Ordinary. Those weren't words that described Zeke and those weren't words that God had ever had planned for Zeke's life. His life wasn't ordinary--it was extraordinary.
One year ago today we had Zeke's memorial service. I feel like God carried me through those days. This year I feel like I'm a little more awake and able to feel it a little more. This is both a blessing and a curse. It hurts a little more...I miss him a little more. But I am able to truly sit back and reflect on his life. I feel so honored to have been chosen as Zeke's mommy--if even for such a short time.
Friday was our school's faculty and staff Christmas party. It was sandwiched between the anniversary of Zeke's death and his birthday but all in all I was feeling pretty fair and these people I work with are like family to me. They were there when Zeke was born, there when he went back to Jesus, and they are there now to take over my class if I'm having a hard day. I feel safe with them and decided to go and be with my friends. It was time for the Chinese gift exchange. My number was a low number so I had a whole stage full of gits to chose from. I randomly selected a gift and opened it in front of everyone. When I pulled it out I just stopped. It was a plaque that read:
Footprints in the Sand
Lord, You said that once I decided to follow You, we would walk side by side through life. But when I needed You most, I saw only one set of footprints in the sand.
The Lord replied, "I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trail and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints...
it was then that I carried you.