Good Friday and Easter Sunday are perhaps the most significant days of the church calendar, and yet, in a real sense, we live our lives on Saturday, the day in between. Philip Yancey

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I'll Love You Forever

A couple days ago Josiah grabbed the little book I'll Love You Forever off the shelf and snuggled up next to me. I obliged his request even though I've always found that book to be a little creepy, in the sweetest sort of way. I mean climbing into your grown son's window while he's sleeping to hold and sing to him? I needed to get a cathartic cry out of the way before today so I willed myself to let the sweetness win out. It didn't take much effort as just inside the cover was a dear friend's hope-filled inscription in anticipation of Lydia's birth. Then basically every other page reads this sappy "chorus":

I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living
My baby you'll be.

When you get to the end the son does similar sweet weirdness for his aged mother and flips the words. Hard turned to torture.

I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living
My Mommy you'll be.

This is the natural order of the parent-child relationship. Natural order went out the window soon after Lydia's textbook perfect birth.

It was replaced with a life exponentially stranger and more endearing than the story line of I'll Love You Forever
A hugely distended, "pierced" and scarred tummy, accessorized with hard plastic shoes, never looked so sweet.

I can think of few greater temporal joys than the first smile witnessed from your child in years, after finally treating the proper diagnosis.

Still the brokenness and intensity were too great for a novel length life. We came to appreciate and expect a short story for our girl. 

Oh how I long to pick back up where we left off, but in a restored eternal order, for our first two-sided conversation. I promise to let you do most of the talking to make up for lost time.

After a morning of tearful reflection I sat down for some spiritual nourishment. Too much emotion and not enough substance make me irritable. I kept coming back to J. I. Packer quotes to clarify some of the conflict between what my pain actually is verses what it's generally presumed to be. “It has become conventional to think as if we are all going to live in this world forever and to view every case of bereavement as a reason for doubting the goodness of God.”

Being Lydia’s mom has been my course in desperately learning the counter-truth to this deception. Death indeed is horrible and unnatural. Please don’t ever call it a blessing even though it can bring great relief. Our souls were created for forever, not endings. God sent Adam and Eve out of the garden to separate them from a second potentially devastating tree, the tree of life. If they would have eaten from it after infecting themselves and the world with sin, physical immortality would be set in a broken state before restoration. This is not the kind of forever ordained by the Creator for them, us, or Lydia. While death is indeed an enemy, it is actually evidence of God’s goodness, a provision for restoration.

Even with this redeeming understanding, the pain of Lydia's death is just so great that it has knocked the breath out of my passion for Saturday. I know that this time between Christ's death and the full impact of His resurrection is a precious extension so that more may be brought into the fold for Sunday. I am selfishly just eager for the restoration, so I can naturally long for only those things He will satisfy. I want to live like I fully believe that He alone is enough.

“Materialism, with its corollary that this life is the only life for enjoying anything, has infected Christian minds producing the feeling that it is a cosmic outrage for anyone to have to leave this world before he or she has tasted all that it has to offer.” Everything this world had to offer Lydia paled in comparison to what we wanted for her. I imagine that is only a tiny taste of what motivated God to assure that death would be a part of this time to keep this life, with a hard relationship with Him, from being our climax.

On this September 17th, 11 years since your birth and 1 yr, 2 months and 12 days since your death I don't know which event displays God's goodness more. I marvel that our overwhelming joy, following your birth, was the prelude to your most epic pain. And that your overwhelming joy, following your death, was the prelude to ours. I treasure having been with you for both and would live them over again for the privilege of being your mother, dear sanctifying child.

Happy Birthday Lydia.

I'll love you forever,
I fought for you always,
For all of eternity
My baby you'll be.


  1. What a beautiful picture of the two of you here at the end. What a lovely post. I agree about the creepiness of that book a bit! I hope you have a joy filled day, remembering her life, remembering your role as her mom, and being with the rest of your family, finishing out this sanctification on earth yet awaiting eternity. Oh how blessed it will be! big hugs.

  2. Interestingly enough, I was with a group of friends, all parents of varying shapes and ages, heartbreaks and joys, when this book was brought up. I confess, I never really allowed myself to think of the creepiness of it, all those times I was reading it to my children through long nights of hospitalizations or illnesses, or simple bedtimes. But, that was the overwhelming conclusion-that it was just TOO creepy! But, I just always choked back the tears every time I read it.

  3. Heidi, thank you dear friend for hanging out and going there with me.

    Barbara, that's funny. I'm guessing you are among those who are naturally more tender hearted. Gotta have some to balance me (and apparently a bunch of other parents) out!

  4. Happy Birthday Lu-Lu, I'll love you forever.
    I have so many precious memories of you in the class room that I hold dear in heart to cherish forever.
    Thank you Allison for giving me the opportunity to make memories with and to love your precious girl.

  5. Allison,

    I am stunned at your grace-filled comments spiced with real life grit. Ironically, this comes on the anniversary of my dad's suicide, causing me to simultaneously grapple with real life while gratefully embracing God's sovereignty.

    Blessings on you, dear one,


  6. Shirley, thank you for rising to the challenge of learning Lydia and loving her like your own. I never dreamed school would be such. Your Lu Lu she will always be and it makes me smile each time.

    Connie, I did not know that we share such a spiritually significant date. I am sorry for your pain but like keeping good company in the grappling and embracing. Thank you for sharing and encouraging!