Letters to SJ.


My sweet SJ,

You are unFOURgettable. Today, but truly every day.

I have wondered so many times this last year all the ways you must be changing. What does your voice sound like? How long has your hair gotten? What have you learned? Does your one eyebrow still lift when you make that mischievous smirk? Do you still throw your head back and shriek with joy when you laugh? What does it take to make you laugh like that at this age? Are you the jokester of Heaven I imagine you are, spreading joy like you did here?

I’ve wondered too what pieces of our lives you have caught glimpses of. Have you seen all of the times your daddy and I have suddenly remembered something you said or did and tried our best to imitate your sass? Always hit or miss if we’d crack up or cry afterwards. Do the decisions we made make sense to you now? What about the days you caught the tears I cried and asked why? As I hurried to wipe them away, I’d only answer “because I love you so much.” And now that you know it all, I wonder, would you wipe those tears yourself and tell us we did right by you? Because, oh my God, did we try. 

A small girl walked past me in uptown Charlotte a few months ago. I smiled as I saw her, trying to recall if that was about the height you were, the last time I’d seen you. Her family saw me smiling and encouraged her to say hello. “Go on, tell her your name,” they said. It was Savannah. My heart felt like it might stop, but I managed the words “that’s my daughter’s name too.” Somehow, I felt better as soon as I said it.

You don’t know how many times I’ve longed to say your name this last year. How desperate I’ve felt to keep it alive when that’s all that’s left to defend. We’ve helped people in your honor. We’ve left places and spaces more beautiful than we’ve found them, always with touches of wildflowers to tell of you. We’ve rearranged the details of our lives to do more with all you’ve taught us. We’ve told your story and we’ve shared your heart. Over and over and over again.

 Still, as many times as I’ve talked about you, there’s been a thousand times more that I’ve wished I could. Times I’ve wished I could pull aside people daily passing me by and say there’s more to me than what you think you see. I am not just a thirty-something, alone and carefree. I am a mother and no matter how much my life resembles the days before that were true, there is no going back. I am different because I’ve known her. There are times too I’ve wished people did not shrink back or slip away when I tell stories of you. It’s too much for them, your Daddy says. The emotions. The needing to talk about them. The saying your name. Friends who have suffered the same confirm this was true for them too. The words “too much” baffle me though because, for me, it will never be enough. I’m never going to stop talking about you. I’m never going to stop telling your story.

Becoming your mother helped me understand the Father’s heart, so full of passionate, protective love for His children. I love you fiercely. The way I know He loves me now. But loving you all the way to Heaven has helped me shape my own heart for Him. I better understand what it’s like to love and long for someone 

I cannot see or wrap my arms around. I know you both are so very real, and you’re waiting for me. Every day I wake up thinking if only one more person could know this too. Because of you. 

Happy birthday, my big four year old.

I know you are celebrating with our Savior in all the best ways today. A spinning hug. (The kind where you’d once wrap your arms around my neck and together we’d chant “tighter, tighter!” as we spun across our living room.) Collapsing on the ground in a fit of laughter before He looks over at you and shares a wink saying, “sometimes, if you do it right, three years of ministry is all you need.“ Family and friends who’ve gone before us, gathered all around. A peek down at your daddy and I sharing guacamole- your favorite simple joy- in Greenville, SC. The start of a new family tradition on what will always be known to us as SJ day. 

I love you FOURever, little SoJourner.