Chris will be turning sixty-one on January 31, but I don’t think he’s celebrating birthdays in heaven. Twenty-four years after his death, I still pause on this day and wonder if his baby face would have aged well, if his outdoor, labor intensive job would have impaired his joints or wrecked his back? I think that he would be nearing retirement and ponder what our life together would look like now.
Thoughts of Chris always intermingle with melancholy over the fact that he is not here to celebrate his birthday, and he hasn’t been since he turned thirty-six. He has missed a lot of life with us, with the family and friends whose lives were intimately connected with his. Most of all, he has missed out on our son Matthew’s life.
Along with Chris’ birthday there is another important thing that happened on January 31, 1988. Matthew (whose name means “Gift from God”) was baptized on that date.
Chris and I wrestled with that decision. We struggled with whether or not to have the celebration of this two month old child’s baptism on Chris’ birthday. Our decision became final; however, when the church became available and that way our relatives would only need to take time out of one of their coveted weekends to gather at our house. We told ourselves, “Well, this way we will never forget Matt’s baptismal date.”
Is it coincidence that since Chris’ death, every time I think of his birthday, I remember to live out our faith through the promise of baptism? I think of Chris’ baptism, how he was born into faith and that God’s resurrection promise took him into Heaven.
Every January 31, I remember Chris, and celebrate the years that we did have together. I am also grateful that I continue to remember that day for the gift of baptism given to all of us who believe. January 31 is a day of love – my forever love of Chris, the love that created our child and the love that God has for each of us through the sacrament of
Coincidence? I don’t think so!