Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name – Psalm 103
These are the words on Jeremy’s marker. These are the words Jeremy would sing while at home, in the car, and in the hospital.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since God took Jeremy home to Heaven. Words aren’t enough to express the heartache, the gut-wrenching physical and emotional pain of missing him and remembering everything that he was asked to endure. We have a deep Jeremy-sized hole in our hearts. Some days it actually does feel like it’s been an entire year, but many days it feels like it was just yesterday – just yesterday when we heard him sing, held his hand, touched his feet, hugged him, and kissed him for the last time here on this earth.
Jeremy’s absence is felt daily, constantly, but it’s the simple things that really make it hard – being asked by strangers if Matty is our first child or how many children we have. Watching Matty play by himself, knowing that they would have loved each other’s company. Taking a family picture and seeing the empty space that Jeremy would have occupied. Seeing so many of Jeremy’s favorite toys around because they’ve now become Matty’s favorites. Hearing a favorite song of Jeremy’s play on the radio. Making pancakes in the morning and not being able to serve it to him on his favorite Buzz Lightyear plate. Going out to eat and asking for a table for three instead of four. We often divide and conquer – one of us will stay with Matty, while the other goes out to run an errand. And the one who goes out alone, the first thoughts are always, tearfully, “I miss Jeremy. He should be here.”
We’ve experienced a wide range of emotions. There’s been intense grief and sorrow and weeping to the point of physical aching. We are sometimes visited, haunted by the awful memories of the things that were done to Jeremy in the hospital – the things that this wretched disease did to him and took away from him. We hate it. All of it. The things that we had to ask of Jeremy that no parent should ever have to ask of their children. Everything that Jeremy had to go through, everything he had to endure and suffer through, everything that children aren’t supposed to experience.
And yet in the depths of grief, the Holy Spirit gives us this overwhelming, supernatural, confident, and hopeful joy that we can only have through Jesus Christ – to be reminded that Jeremy is in Heaven, alive and well, where nothing can hurt him ever again, free from the brokenness of this world. Jesus called it Paradise. We are blessed that God gave us the privilege of caring for His child – this beautiful little boy that He created to be so uniquely prepared for the challenges he would face. Our one and true comfort comes only from God’s word – His promises of eternity.
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. ” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
We can rejoice, really, truly rejoice that Jeremy is now in the presence of the Almighty God, in full and complete joy. Jeremy now knows by sight what we know by faith – he now sees what was previously unseen. There is so much comfort in that.
We have such wonderful memories of Jeremy. The way he made silly, serious, and superhero faces. The sound of his laugh, the movements of his little body when he sang and danced (and boy, did he have rhythm). The joy on his face when he liked a food that he tried for the very first time – the way his eyes lit up, then immediately narrowed as he grinned his biggest grin. The way his tongue would slightly peek out when he was really focusing on a project like cutting up paper for a craft. How protective he was of his little brother – the way he growled when people other than his parents got too close to Matty, the way he carefully fed Matty so that it wouldn’t get too messy, and the way he comforted Matty when he cried by singing “Baby Mine” or “Come Thou Fount.” The way that Jeremy could make Matty laugh like no one else could. How protective he was of Mommy when she encountered a swarm of flies or when Daddy would harass her. The things he would say when he was his own sports commentator (“He shoots! He rhymes!). The things he used to cook for us in his play kitchen and how he would leave them on the floor in the doorway to our room for us to find and eat and enjoy. The feel of his hugs as his arms tightened around our neck and shoulders. Even memories in the hospital. As rotten as that time was, it was still a blessed time to be able to care for Jeremy and watch him grow and develop in amazing ways. We saw his patience and thoughtfulness towards others and a maturity that far surpassed his years.
We are blessed to still hear Jeremy’s sweet voice, still comforting us, “It’s okay, it’s okay. It’s only for a little bit, though.” We hear God’s voice, His gentle, peaceful, loving voice reminding us that our lives here are a worship to Him and He has the best plans for His children.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9
The Holy Spirit loudly reminds us of the unimaginable glory that Jeremy is now and forever experiencing, worshipping God in God’s presence. We praise God for the rescue that Jeremy can only have through Jesus Christ. We talk about what a good kid Jeremy is, but we are reminded that regardless of how good he is, he still needed Jesus to be right before our Holy God. And it was such a blessing and mercy for us to see Jeremy come to know that and receive Jesus into his heart.
It’s been a year…it’s amazing how much children grow in that time. Matty’s running around the house, sometimes singing at the top of his lungs, dancing, flexing his muscles. It a blessing to see so much of Jeremy in him – the shape of their bodies, the way they walk and talk, the way they smile and laugh. And yet, as similar as they are, they are also very, very different and very special in their own ways. While Jeremy is very contemplative and methodical, Matty is very expressive and spontaneous. Whereas Jeremy would stop and defend Mommy as Daddy would play harrass her, Matty would laugh and join in. We were talking with family just today how if they were ninja turtles, Jeremy would be Leonardo, the rule follower, and Matty would be Raphael, the rule breaker. We love our boys.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name.” These are the words that Jeremy is singing now and forever in his Heavenly home. And we, on earth, want to continue to sing these same words everyday and, by God’s grace, instill in our family. What a blessing, that we sometimes get to hear Matty sing these words – with hands lifted high, as loud as he can – and we’re praying it is and would be a cry from his heart.
And here is a short audio clip of Jeremy singing. It is such a joy to hear our boys worship.
As we reflect on the time we had with Jeremy and his life and the impact it had on the people around him, we are also reminded of all the people who went on this journey with him and us. Thank you, friends and family, for your love, care, and support through one of the darkest seasons of life. We have been and continue to be tremendously blessed by you. Thank you for your faithful prayers. Thank you for remembering and loving our sweet, beautiful Jeremy.