"Before the Morning" by Josh Wilson was playing on the radio today and it reminded me of the intense emotions of anger, sadness and unbelief that we were feeling a year ago. (We chose to play this song at my mother-in-law's funeral alongside pictures depicting her life.) Tomorrow marks the day that her sons had to say goodbye, but the journey to that point was a two week process of multiple surgeries and many sleepless nights, hoping and praying she would rebound out of what started as a surgery to make her cancer-free.
It is amazing to me how far God has taken us in this past year and Ashley and I just feel like the timing of Jude's birth was God redeeming the entire situation and re-confirming that He has always been by our side, especially in the past few years. Jude was born, exactly a year after the last time we talked to my mother-in-law. I still vividly remember praying with her and Ashley right before they wheeled her out of the pre-op room into surgery. I also just happened to put in a pair of her earrings prior to going to work the night I went into labor. These subtle things were just small ways that Ashley and I could feel the presence of God when Jude was born. The reality that my in-laws are not here anymore hit Ashley and I in a very deep way the night Jude was born because after calling my family and sharing the great news, Ashley didn't have his parents to call. The void was so present in the room that we both cried, but at the same time we could feel God wrapping His arms around us by providing us with a healthy baby boy that would bring immense joy to us a year after we felt such deep heartbreak.
It is hard to imagine life any different that what it has been this past year, but within a year we went from a family of two, to a family of four. We have a newborn and a soon to be high school graduate. I wish my mother-in-law was here to rejoice in both these special occasions; Jude's birth and Sean's graduation, because she would be so proud. But God had bigger plans for all of us and to look back at the journey He has walked us through this past year I realize that I am a better mom because of the heartache I have experienced. But don't get me wrong, I wish things had been different. I wish that my mother-in-law could hold Jude and I wish she could see her son be a wonderful dad and I wish she could watch her youngest walk across the stage and receive his diploma with academic honors from high school. But the lyrics to the song "Before the Morning" captures the promise of the joy that is coming with the Lord and for that I am thankful.