Heather Gray

Flawed...but loved anyway.

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Another Birthday

Dear Sweet Child,

You would be starting your freshman year in high school if you were still with us. I didn’t realize that until just the other day.

I choose to be happy for you. I choose to celebrate the life you lived here on earth and the life you now have in heaven with our Savior. But still… Every now and then, something kicks me in the gut. Realizing this would be your freshman year did that - a good, solid kick.

It doesn’t help that it’s your brother’s senior year. The house will be empty and quiet next year, and it’s not supposed to be. It’s supposed to be loud with laughter and all-hours chattiness for several more years. Instead, it will be quiet. I try not to think of that because when I do, I’m tempted to feel cheated, and that’s not the way I want to live my life.

So I continue to circle back around to celebrating the life you led here on earth and the life you’re currently embracing in heaven. It’s not always an easy choice, but it’s a choice that - by God’s great grace - I keep making.

I started a teaching job this fall. Fourth and fifth graders. I have a couple of talkative girls in one of my classes. It was a shock to me. I haven’t been around any talkative, chatty girls since… Well, since you. I was used to it when you were a part of my daily life. But it’s been too long, and sometimes I find myself staring at those girls and wondering how they can use so many words in such a short space of time. That’s when I realize that my life may have become too quiet since your passing. Too structured, too predictable.

So now I’m teaching English grammar to these fourth and fifth graders, and there’s rarely a quiet moment in my classroom. I’m not always sure what to do with all that noise, but I’m starting to like it.

You used to talk about how sad it was that there were kids in the world who hadn’t heard about Jesus. You didn’t like to think about kids who didn’t know what it was like to be in church and to be loved by their fellow believers. You are on my mind every time I teach. I think of the great privilege - and responsibility - it is to teach these children about punctuation and the parts of speech while also pouring the love of Jesus out into every single one of their lives.

I miss you every day. Some days more than others. And this time of year - it’s always hard. I don’t suppose that’ll ever change. But still, in the midst of that heartache, I celebrate. Knowing you changed my life for the better, so I celebrate the time I got to spend with you. I celebrate the hugs and giggles, the laughter and tickles, the clumsy clattering and the constant chattering. And I celebrate the Savior who shaped you so beautifully and who has promised that I will see you again.

I love and miss you.

With happy birthday wishes,


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