As they played together...
For Christmas in 2018, Rachel and I got Anders & Linnea each a stuffed animal - a stuffed unicorn for Linnea and a pudgy stuffed fox for Anders. They only had them for a few days before Anders was rushed to the emergency room. When Rachel and I were packing to meet Anders at the hospital in Fargo, we threw his fox into our bag.
The stuffed fox was sitting in his hospital room for the first two days. When Rachel and I awoke on Saturday, January 12th, the fox was now under his left arm, placed there by his nurse to brace his arm. Even though he only played with his fox a few times, Rachel and I treasure the last toy he ever touched.
After Anders died, Rachel and I kept the fox in bed with us for a few days - a reminder of our son. Eventually, we placed it on the shelf on our bedroom’s far wall as another reminder of Anders’s 11 months on earth.
Eventually, Linnea was able to walk and when she came into our room, the stuffed fox always drew her attention. She would walk over to the shelf it sat on, pull it down, and would give the fox a big hug. She would try to bring it out of our room, but we kept it in our room, sitting on the shelf.
One morning last week, Linnea and Rachel were back in our room printing some stickers. Elias had just finished breakfast, and he walked in to see what the girls were doing. Then he saw the fox for the first time. He made a beeline for the orange fox, crawling over a small mountain of clothes and a backpack to pull the fox from its new spot in the closet.
Elias was in love. He hugged the fox, kissed its face, and then bolted out of the bedroom and into the living room. For several minutes, he carried the fox from one place to another around our house, a big smile plastered on his face the entire time.
Elias climbed up onto a chair in the kitchen when Linnea sat down for breakfast and started talking to the fox. Eventually, the fox was being tossed into the air and then thrown towards Linnea.
Rachel looked at me and said, “I can’t do anything about this right now. They just look like they are having so much fun.”
I was holding back what was starting to be some tears when I said, “I know, it seems like for the first time in their lives, all three of our kids are playing together.”
Obviously, our three kids weren’t playing together. Anders has been in heaven longer than he was here on earth. Elias and Anders never were together on earth. But something about that morning felt like we could forget about our reality for a few seconds.
But that’s not possible. We can’t forget about our reality, even though we may want to.
In this world, on this side of heaven, for the rest of my life, I am a bereaved parent. No matter how much Rachel and I would like our three kids to play together, they won’t. No matter how much I would love to teach Anders how to hit a baseball or grill a steak, I won’t get that opportunity.
And right now, seeing Linnea and Elias play with Anders’s fox brought that pain of the reality of not having Anders around to the front of my mind. My heart aches to once again be with my boy. I still cry because I miss him so much.
One day those tears will all be wiped away!
"He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
- Revelation 21:4
But the hope of heaven is so great that I am ok with my heart hurting because Anders isn’t hurting in the presence of King Jesus. I miss Anders, my heart is broken because I want him to be here with us, but he is better than ok. Anders is in heaven and is experiencing perfect love for eternity.