Happy Birthday in Heaven, Joseph.
Today you would be
eighteenthirty-three. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around that since you were only seventeen when I last wrapped my arms around you and breathed in the scent that was uniquely yours.
I miss making birthdays special for you. I miss decorating your birthday table every June 13th before going to bed so that when you woke up on your birthday morning, you could run down the stairs and find special treats purchased especially for you. I miss baking your favorite birthday cake—lemon cake with lemon icing and sprinkles. If you were here, it would still be centered on a bright-colored birthday tablecloth with matching plates, cups, and napkins even though you’d grown to think that was silly by the time you were old enough to shave.
A hearty supply of your favorite snacks, Pepsi and Reese’s Pieces, would be on your birthday table with pictures of birthdays past. And because I needed to provide the celebration far more than you enjoyed the fanfare, I suspect you would roll your eyes when you noticed balloons floating from your chair.
But now your chair is empty, and there will be no party or cake. But Joseph, we are rejoicing today because we have hope, peace, and joy.
I lament my yearly quest to find the perfect gifts for you and just the right paper to wrap them in. So I’m going to turn the tables and thank you for a few of the gifts you gave to us.
Thank you for introducing us to great love.
Before welcoming you, our firstborn, into this world, your dad and I were utterly clueless that we could love someone with such reckless abandon. You flipped our world on its head. You taught us to shift our focus from ourselves onto someone else. And to think: God loves us even more than we love you!
Thank you for the wisdom in your silence.
You spoke few words, but the ones you did were wise beyond your years, packed with forethought, and bathed in discernment. Thank you for that example and valuable lesson.
Thank you for your loyalty.
For a young man who had only a small handful of really close friends, your commitment to each continues to amaze us as the testimony of your selflessness unfolds. When we grow up, we want to be like you.
Thank you for your integrity.
Thank you for speaking truth no matter what. As your dad mentioned at your memorial service, you never licked your finger and held it up to see which way the wind was blowing. When you perceived the right thing to do, you did it. You set the bar high, and your example has held each of your parents accountable on more than one occasion.
Thank you for your faith.
Thank you for the assurance in your written word and your daily walk, that you knew and loved Jesus. We have peace because we know without hesitation that you are standing face-to-face with Him.
And although tears are flowing, we are filled with joy today because God gifted us with amazing you for seventeen incredible, albeit short, years. And we rejoice because we will see you again.
Happy Birthday, Joseph. I miss you, and I love you.