Today is your second birthday–the second anniversary of when we had to entrust you to our Good Shepherd’s care and postpone the joy of discovering who you are. Even so, today your daddy and I celebrated your day and thought and talked about you a lot. In the past two years we’ve certainly spent a lot of time grieving over you–and have even felt that grief acutely in recent days. We’ve also learned, though, that true grief can’t be forced. It comes on its own and demands attention. But instead, today was about the ways that you, Elliott Nathan, are our gift.
Did you know that your middle name means gift of God? One of the sweetest gifts I’ve ever been given was the profound miracle of being transformed into a mother, with a heart full to overflowing with a mother’s love. And you, Elliott, gave me that. The night you were born we were still in shock, and I was affected by painkillers. I knew I loved you, but I knew there was more. The only prayer I could think to pray was that God would give me a mother’s love, even if it meant my heart would break. The next morning, on the Fourth of July, your daddy and I held you for the last time and marveled at your sweetness, your perfection, and in those moments God answered my prayer for us both. Our hearts broke, but we loved you with a love we’d never known before. Over time, the sharpness of the pain we felt then has subsided, but like silver refined by fire, our love for you has remained. What a treasure it is to us.
Did you know that our first gift to you was your name? The week before you were born, your dad decided it was time to name you. We’d talked about names for a long time, and Elliott had been my favorite name for years. And then your dad loved it too. Elliott means both brave and true and Jehovah is God. We were excited about life with a little boy named Elliott. So when we learned you had already gone to be with Jesus, we questioned whether we should save the name for another boy later. We didn’t consider this for too long, though. We both knew we wouldn’t have more opportunities to give you gifts in the future, so we decided to give you the gift of our far and away favorite name. We have no regrets. It’s a name we’re proud of, and befitting of you, the son we’ll always be proud of. Besides, your name is a reminder to us that even though we’ll always wish we had both our Elliott and our Pippa, Jehovah is still God and we trust him.
The name Nathan was really a gift from your Papa, my dad. The morning you were born, before we knew anything was wrong, my dad felt like God led him to John 1:47-49 about when Jesus spoke to Nathaniel, a man “in whom was no guile.” He thought perhaps Nathaniel or Nathan might be a fitting name for you. Your dad and I still hadn’t found a middle name we loved, so we thought it was a sweet gift of God to give us the perfect one at just the right time.
So today, little Elliott, to celebrate your day, your dad and I went to Itasca State Park here in Minnesota, rented bikes, and went on a beautiful, 9-10 mile ride through the woods. It was the first time in months that we were able to do something physically active like this together, and your dad still hasn’t had the really nasty side effects we heard were inevitable, so this bike ride was really a celebration. Even as we walk through another dark valley, God’s grace is enough and his generosity abundant.
We miss you Elliott, but we know we’ll see you again, and we love you so much!