One week ago, we celebrated, alongside family and friends, the short life of our baby boy Titus.
When trying to think about the kind of service we wanted to plan, the details we wanted to include, and the songs and words we wanted to share, it seemed impossible for so many reasons. First, we were in shock that we’d even have to plan a memorial service for our baby at all. And second, we found ourselves at a loss for what to include in his service. We never got to know this little boy. We barely even have pictures of him. How were we to plan a memorial service to honor a life we knew so little about?
And then, like so many other times in the past month, we decided to change our perspective.
Titus’ life is with Jesus. And that is definitely something we could (and can continue to) celebrate.
So instead of a memorial service, we decided to throw Titus a heavenly birthday party. Our goal was to include boyish and playful details for our little one, to encourage hope instead of despair, and to celebrate life and heaven and Jesus. So naturally, as with all birthday parties, we ordered dessert – a cake, mini cupcakes (for our mini man), and cake pops. We encouraged guests to take a scoop of gummy bears from a jar in honor of our “baby bear” and to wear a Courage bracelet because Titus’s life taught us to find strength and courage in Jesus. There were flowers and his little shoes, a fingerprint guestbook and his little stuffed bear. Every single detail was simple, but meaningful.
And though it’s not the way we pictured, we’re grateful for the chance to throw our son a party and to celebrate with him the life he’s experiencing in heaven.
It’s a day we will remember forever in honor of a little boy we will love forever.
Below is the note we wrote (that our brother-in-law Nick shared for us at the service) and some pictures of the details we put together for our Ty bear.
. . .
The Whole Armor of God
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.”
Ephesians 6:10-18 (ESV)
Our first week home, without our baby boy, our sister Jaci read this passage over us. As we sat there processing the words, Hannah’s dad pointed out how striking it is that we’re instructed to put on all this armor just to stand. That’s it. We’re in the midst of a fierce battle with darkness and evil, yet all we do is stand, protected by the armor of God, while he fights for us.
These past few weeks have been full of the worst pain and sadness we’ve ever experienced. Sometimes it feels impossible to stand under the weight of grief and sorrow. And yet in the midst of what feels like a nightmare we will never wake up from – a battle with the deepest darkness we’ve ever known – God is with us, fighting for us, and enabling us to stand.
And now Titus is standing in the presence of Jesus – no armor needed. He’s living in the freedom that we all hope for one day with no darkness, no pain, no sadness, and no suffering.
We only ever got to see our little boy’s eyes closed, but now his big blue eyes are wide open, soaking in all the glory of God. And even though our arms ache everyday to hold him, we know there’s no better place for him than in the presence of his Savior, where he’s able to be everything he was created to be, perfectly.
Lately, what brings us joy is dreaming about what he’s like. Would he love nature like we do? Would he be nerdy and into technology like his daddy? Maybe creative and introverted like mommy? Would he be tender hearted? Compassionate? Fun-loving? Silly? A Broncos fan?
We imagine taking him to the beach and our dog Harvey running circles around him. And to the mountains where he could explore.
And yet even as we try to imagine all of this, we realize we did learn a few things about him in the short time he spent here on earth inside Hannah’s tummy. He loved fruit and crunchy ice. And although Chinese food and pizza were not his cup of tea, he did like tea of all kinds. He was a morning person, most active right after breakfast. He was gentle and calm and loved sticking his booty in the air, or rather, Hannah’s ribs. And he loved listening to music. Especially in the car, as Hannah sang along or when Kent would play guitar for him.
In fact, music has been a huge part of this journey for us as well. In the joy filled and trying moments of pregnancy, throughout a long labor, and now in the sorrow to follow, we’ve found healing and bittersweet meaning in the lyrics of various songs. One example of this is a song Kent learned on the ukulele a while back called Tonight You Belong to Me. Before Titus was even born, Hannah’s mom picked this song as his lullaby. It says,
“I know you belong
To somebody new
You belong to me
Although we’re apart
You are a part of my heart
You belong to me
My honey I know
With the dawn
That you will be gone
You belong to me”
Little did we know, how true these words would ring. Though we only got one night to hold him here on Earth, someday, we’ll see our sweet Titus again with an eternity to get to know him. And when that day comes, we’ll stand once again, this time side by side with our boy, praising the one who made it possible to have hope after death, peace in the midst of tragedy, comfort in our pain, and joy in sorrow.
Thank you, Jesus.