I married a man who likes to sit in the back of church. He likes to have an escape, whether it is from awkward conversation or sudden explosions, he believes the back is the place to be. So I lovingly oblige him. The only problem is that all of the beautiful active vibrant children are also found at the back of the church, and today I couldn't help but watch them.
I starred at the little red head in front of us as she repeatedly banged her chubby hand on the metal folding chair. Her father's hand would muffle the noise momentarily, only to be followed by a more exuberant bang. I noticed the restless, necessary, and unsatisfying sleep of the infant beside me in her mother's arms. I remembered the difficulty of nap times interrupted. I noticed my friend at the front of the chapel silently snatching her child before she could make it to the stairs, then to the stage, then to the organ.
I used to do these things with Jonah. I spent 3 hours of each Sunday chasing Jonah through the halls. I would pull out every toy in the diaper bag, in the first 10 minutes, trying to keep him busy. He would knock over plants, lick the windows, and consistently need a diaper change. I was always relieved and exhausted when he would finally fall asleep, his long heavy body resting in the cradle of my inadequate arms. Even though I often wondered why I went to church with a small child, I miss those moments. My Sundays are very different now.
Jonah has been gone for 4 months today. I am constantly reminded of moments that I miss, of reasons why my heart should and can continue aching. I see him everywhere, and think about him constantly. My prayer in this fourth month has been that my memories of Jonah can bring me more joy than pain. I want to be able to think of him and just remember the love and happiness his life brought to mine. I can't say that I am there yet, but I feel the balance is shifting toward joy and I'm grateful for that. I am grateful for moments when Jordan and I talk about Jonah's antics and we laugh. We wonder what things he might be able to do now, if he were 18 months old, and still with us. The heartache lingers around the edges of each memory. I'm sure it always will, but there is room for light, and life. I felt some happiness to match my heartache as I watched these sweet children.
After a few moments, lost in memory and observation, I leaned back in my chair and looked up. I saw the most remarkable and simple sight. A single shiny blue balloon, hovering alone among the vaulted ceiling beams. It was a sight only to be seen by those who looked up. I immediately thought of Jonah. He loved balloons and could spot them in the most unusual places. I am grateful I looked up. I'm grateful for a misplaced blue balloon, for Sundays, and for mostly joyful memories.