Over the last months I have been enjoying looking at my family pictures. Each has a story and is connected to emotions we experienced as a family. I especially love looking at the last pictures we took as a family between January and April of 2012. Julie and I had been married for almost 12 years, and we were enjoying life as a family of four. Both of our children, Timothy and Anahi, had come as a result of much prayer and years of waiting. Each of them, before even arriving into our home, had a powerful story.
At the time of the accident, Julie was pregnant again. I remember during one of our breakfast conversations not long before the accident, Julie said, "If it’s a girl, let's name her Lilian, and if it’s a boy, let’s call him Caleb." She was due in December 2012. If the pregnancy would have come to a full term, today I would be the proud father of three children and the husband of an incredible woman. I consider myself a family man, and I believe the institution of marriage can be the closest representation to heaven on earth. Only God knows the reason for taking half of my family home . . .
As I have learned to grieve over the past 14 months, I've realized that true healing happens when we deal with our pain. And part of this process is letting go and accepting the loss. At a recent personal retreat I was made aware that the next step is saying goodbye. I began saying some goodbyes on this blog last month, and on July 1 I said another goodbye, this time to my family portrait. Yesterday I clicked "edit" on our Facebook profile picture and selected a more recent picture that represents my new family: a snapshot of a widowed father and his daughter.
Does this mean I want to take my old family portraits off the wall? NO. Does it mean I feel like going on with life without Julie and Timi? NO. I want to continue loving them and cherishing them, and if I could change things, I would bring them back. No one can take away the experiences, the lessons, or the love that we cherished as a family of four. Julie, who loved God first and was willing to serve me just as I was willing to serve her, helped me to become a better man, husband, and father. Timi made me a more grace-giving, more spontaneous, and more self-sacrificing man.
Thank you, Julie and Timi. Even though you are no longer in our family profile picture, you are, indeed, carved in the innermost place of my heart, forever.