Navigating the Tension of Remembering

My thoughts are most prone to wander while lying in the bed at night. After a long day of trying to execute my responsibilities in each sphere of my life, and I slow down long enough for everything to settle down, that’s when thoughts of Kaleb often emerge. There’s not a day I don’t think about him. He’s not far from my mind at any time. My office has pictures of him everywhere. The screensaver on my phone is of him. So it is not that nighttime is the only time I think of him, but it’s usually the time when my thoughts can run wild. 


Sometimes my thoughts go to his struggles. He couldn’t speak his last two years. The stroke from his fungal meningitis affected his speech. He could only occasionally get a word or phrase out. Most of the time we communicated by asking him questions and letting him answer via head nods, using his finger, or other means. This made it impossible for him to ever really initiate conversations. The only interactions he could have were the ones we initiated with him. This thought makes me wonder if I did enough to talk with him. I begin to wonder if he ever felt lonely. When I put myself in his position, it nearly sends me into anxiety attacks. Yet he lived it for two years. And God gave him the grace to do it with such courage, patience, and faith. 


But as I lay in bed and think thoughts about this, I start feeling sad all over again. I feel guilty for not trying to initiate something every second with him. The anxiousness I would feel in his shoes begins creeping in as if he is feeling that moment. And then I have to shake myself into remembrance that he is not still suffering. He is not laying in the bed unable to talk. He is liberated from the brokenness of his earthly body. He is with Christ. And he can talk with unbounded ability and zeal. 


Remembering Kaleb is a great thing. But it is not helpful to let my thoughts linger in areas of his suffering while he is no longer suffering. I have to fight hard to direct my thoughts away from living in those places. However, it is important that I don’t block those thoughts out and avoid the reality of them. There is a strange tension in remembering his life. I need to feel emotions. Grief and sorrow from Kaleb’s passing are normal. I need to mourn his loss without suppressing emotions as a coping mechanism. It is important to think about him and talk about him often. It is good for my soul. 


The tension I must navigate is remembering not to give in to either ditch that my heart and mind can quickly go to. On one side, I must avoid the fixation on his pain and afflictions as if he is still living in them this moment. He is not. I can rejoice that Christ has set him free, and he is whole. On the other side, I have to guard against only thinking about happy things from his life and ignoring that a real part of his story are the trials he endured. This is a part of God’s redemptive work in and through Kaleb’s life. The tension is to remember the truth about all he endured, while remembering that God sustained him with grace in those trials and has used (and is using) them still today to point people to Himself. Likewise, I need celebrate that even now as I write this, my son is present with the Lord Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:8). He is in no pain. He has no ailments. He is singing praises to his Savior. He is experiencing fullness of joy in this moment, more than I have ever known, in the presence of God (Proverbs 16:11). That is something I smile about as I remember.


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