Memorial stones. Each time the people of Israel accomplished something in God’s name, He had them erect a memorial; a way for them never to forget what they had done by His leading. God is big into remembering significant things. You don’t think so? What about the rainbow? I’m just saying God knows how to erect a memorial.
Who can help but stop and look to the sky and remember the promise behind the rainbow? When the disciples sat down to the last supper, Jesus created a memorial through the cup and the bread. The disciples probably had no idea how significant that memorial would be even today to those who love Jesus.
Memorial stones. I visited one this weekend. We celebrated my son’s fifteenth birthday this weekend. Ryan’s come a long way in fifteen years. Being born at twenty-eight weeks gestation, he started off a bit early and small. And he suffered a great loss before he was a month old. He lost his twin brother.
I didn’t get to see Ryan on his birthday this time- he’s traveling with his older brother and his grandparents making memories of his own, but I visited the cemetery and spent a few moments in front of his brother’s memorial stone, remembering his twin, Justin.
I always cry when I visit. I know he’s not there, but my heart breaks that he’s not here. It breaks for us, not him. I know he’s fine. Like I said, I know he’s not there in the cemetery. And yet I go sometimes. Just to remember….
In honor of the one I get to see grow up, and in memory of the one I don’t, I’m sharing a piece I wrote a while back to Ryan about his early days with Justin. It’s my memorial stone of sorts.
You were two precious boys, you and Justin. Who decided to come so early? Was it you, Justin, or did you decide together? Was it a race? A game of twins tag, perhaps? You were so much alike. Truly twins. So small and so tender, but so beautiful!
They dubbed you boys twin “A” and twin ”B”. Justin was “A” because he raced into this world a few minutes ahead of you. What a pair! The two of you quickly became the talk of the small hospital.
When I see the two of you, I wonder how anyone can doubt there is a God, and that He knit you together, both of you, in my womb. You’re not supposed to be here yet, but there you are. Perfectly formed, right down to your tiny fingernails!
The NICU can be a scary place for a mommy and a daddy. All of the machines, and the wires connecting you to those machines, that beep and blare at us, and make us worry. Yet you and Justin lay in your beds content just to be in the world.
Justin’s bed is the closest one to the entry door, and right next to the sink where we wash up before our visits to see you. It is easy to just step over to see Justin first. I spend several minutes with him, just singing to him and stroking him. Does he know its mommy with him now? I hope so.
I realize far too much time has gone by, and I must come to see you, my precious one. I’m sorry; I’ll come visit with you first tomorrow. But tomorrow comes, and somehow the same thing happens. I am inexplicably drawn to Justin’s closer bedside first. It’s not fair to you, I know, but I cannot seem to change it. So again, I am sorry, and I will try to see you first tomorrow.
We ring the doorbell to the NICU, but we are not allowed in right away today. The nurse tells us we need to wait just a moment, they are having difficulty with a baby, and must focus on that for a few minutes.
Okay. I say a quick prayer for the baby in need, and wait patiently. Another fifteen minutes go by before the door is opened to us, and we can visit you both.
But the nurse has tears in her eyes as she opens the door to me. She tells me she is sorry, and she doesn’t know what is wrong, but the doctor is on his way. She turns to look at Justin, and I know immediately that your brother is in trouble.
My quick prayer had been for him. I should have prayed longer, more fervently. Again as always, but with fear and panic this time, I go to Justin first. He looks sick, and he is seizing. It’s a horrible display.
It’s a few nightmarish days later. Justin is now off the ventilator. We are holding him for the first time without wires and tubes attached. His breathing is shallow and irregular. The nurse, crying, says it could be anytime now.
So we wait with him, holding him, while friends and family are allowed in to see and comfort us. Ironically, you are growing stronger by the hour. You are off the ventilator too, for the first time, and are holding your own, on your own, I’m sad to say.
Finally Justin breathes his last, and my dreams of twin boys running through fields of tall grass are gone.
Now, looking back, I can see how God arranged to have Justin in the first bed instead of you. He knew my time with Justin would be short, while I would have years of precious moments with you. I no longer feel badly about those longer visits with Justin. In the years to come, I will tell you about your first days, and how you both came crashing into our lives so early and so unexpectedly, bringing much joy to our lives.
You will wonder why it was you in the farther bed and not Justin. I won’t be able to answer that question completely. I hope you understand, why in those early precious days, I was drawn to that first bed.
Feel free to post your own memorial stone here. Or just take time to remember a significant time in your life. A time you think God would have you to erect your own memorial stone to visit and remember.