Today has been a really emotional day for me, and it took me a while to figure out why. We haven’t had any significant dates pass, and there haven’t been constant reminders anywhere other than we’ve had them before. I haven’t had anyone ask me about my Team Jonah pin or bring up a previous conversation lately. Nothing really that I could put my finger on, until I thought about what I would rather be doing.
I participated in a fundraiser for the American Lung Association this weekend called Reach the Beach, where 3,000 people ride their bicycles from one of four locations to Pacific City. A good friend and I chose to leave from Newberg – a stretch of just over 80 miles. There were mostly adults for the first 50 miles before we reached the last major stop in Grande Ronde, where several kids joined their parents to ride the last 25 miles. At the time I tried not to think anything of it because it was hard enough to complete the distance we were pushing for, but the images stuck in my mind – a dad and his son riding tandem. A mom and her two daughters, all dressed up in tutus with pink and green pipe cleaners in their helmets. A dad and his two boys all outfitted in riding gear, fighting up the hills like champions. An adult son and his dad riding together… The kind of things I won’t get to participate in with Jonah.
As proud as I was to complete a ride of this distance for the first time I wanted more than anything to kiss my wife and hold my child after we crossed the finish line, bike sweat and all. I wanted to spend the ride home playing with my son or holding him while he slept. I wanted to be able to tell people that I’m tired from being awake during the night with my son instead of because the crib is empty. There will never be a day that it doesn’t hurt, and that’s ok. It’s ok that it is hard, and it’s ok to feel like I’ve missed out on those things. For every moment I think about the things we can’t do together, I think about all of those kicks and turns. Every time I hear a child’s voice in the distance, I think about hearing his heart beating and am so thankful we recorded them. And every single damn time I hear a baby cry, I remember how incredible it was to be in that room watching my wife give birth and being amazed at how incredible this life is. I will never experience those things with my son, but I got to put his first diaper on. We got to swaddle him, clothe him, bathe him, and hold him for hours. Our family got to experience this incredible little person and feel his spirit around them, if only for a moment.
Friends, don’t lose sight of the good times while trying to come to grips with the bad. We’ll never get to know the incredible highs this life has to offer if we don’t know the depths of hardship that comes with it. I miss my son today like the ones before it, but good days are still coming. One day soon I’ll be able to look back and remember holding him, and smile because I still remember what his weight felt like. I’ll be thankful that I had this experience because I was honest enough with myself to say it when it hurts and know that it’s ok. One day, I’ll get to meet my son and he’ll tell me all about who he is and what he likes, and I’ll get to hold him again. One day, just not today – and that’s okay.
Hope springs eternal