Remembering Justin

I sit on the grass and arrange the flowers in the vase, their bright artificial color making a pretty display. I pull green runners of grass away from the stones and look in awe at the date carved in granite – August 7, 1986. Have 25 years really passed since I gave birth to a beautiful, red headed, little baby boy?

I think back, not to the day of his birth, but to a bright summer day 20 years ago. We celebrated that day he was five – presents for Justin and his brothers, a cake with cars, crayons and school supplies for our new venture into homeschooling, and new shoes he didn’t think he needed.

Who needs shoes when the summer days are warm and the green grass feels soft to bare feet? It was a year of abundance – abundant rain, about grass, abundant joy.

So much can change in a year. One year later we brought him home from the hospital with a day pass to spend his birthday at home. We wheeled him into his room in a wheelchair on loan from the hospital hoping the sight of his room would somehow trigger a reaction – a smile, perhaps an attempt to communicate. Nothing. His Daddy and I sat in his room and cried the first bitter tears of reality. The bright, comical, talkative, little boy was forever changed. There were no pictures, no cake, only presents that we opened for him – toys we hoped he might someday hold- toys that would be put away never to be used. The only ray of joy in that bitter year was the addition of a beautiful little girl born just weeks before his sixth birthday in the midst of that long hospital stay and lost summer.

Today as I pull grass runners and uncover the gray stone, I find I am just as awed at the second date carved in the rock – March 3, 2004. Seven years have passed since he left our earthly home. I grieved that night of his death, just as I grieved that day when we brought him home for his birthday – that deep, heart wrenching grief that hurts the chest and steals the breath.

I grieve again today, but the hurt is not so deep because I am reminded of the life that forever changed mine. His passing, both times, brought pain, but his presence – especially the child that would never walk or talk again – taught me the truth about joy. God used his life to teach me how to be abundantly happy despite circumstance; to be truly joyful – that dance in the kitchen gladness that overflows into praise. And so, today I take flowers and remember Justin and joy!


About sheilacampbell

Like all people, my life is multi faceted. I have been a mom for twenty-eight years, raising three wonderful children to young adults. I have been also been a wife, a sister, a daughter, and a friend. I love my Lord; I love the life He has given me and I write about the things I love.
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10 Responses to Remembering Justin

  1. Jana says:

    Wow, Sheila.

  2. Cherrie says:

    Sorry I didn’t remember today while I was on the phone with you. I remembered just not at that moment. You are so right it what G-d taught you through Justin. G-d is only good, and does only good. He does everything for the best and everything for a purpose. We miss Justin too! Nolan makes me think of him often. Happy Birthday Justin!!

  3. Sprittibee says:

    Beautiful tribute. My heart goes out to you. That is some hard joy to learn. I can’t wait to meet him and see his smile- on the other side of eternity.

  4. Beth says:

    This is beautiful, Sheila. Simply beautiful. Thank you for being brave enough to open your heart and share the pain and the joy of this memory. Praise the Lord that though weeping may endure for a night, a shout of joy comes in the morning! : ) This was such a tender and precious glimpse into your life.

  5. Andrea says:

    Thank you, so much for referring me to your beautiful website and especially this beautiful post. Thank you so much for sharing your heart, your memories, and your son. I experienced and watched my parents suffer through the loss of my brother when he was 5 years old. I was only 10, but it was so painful, especially to see how much it hurt my parents. Nothing compares to it, and only God can heal. I thank Him, for the Comforter’s presence, the One that is so evident in you, Sheila. God bless you and your family a hundred fold. Grace and Peace in abundance.

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