Tonight my family and I went to a Chinese all you can eat buffet in Allentown. It was to use a gift certificate generously donated to use after Caleb passed away. Doing things as a family since Caleb passed away has been especially challenging for me in a lot of ways. From counting heads before we leave in the car to where we go and how we are received. Being a large family is not terribly common in this day and age and we tend to chuckle at the looks sometimes or get puffed up on nice comments as we sit at restaurants and people are amazed at how well behaved our children are even though we might disagree.
I experienced gentle reminders tonight and really missed Caleb tonight at one point during dinner. We had basically finished up and our other kids were just chatting and living live as normal. I looked around the table and could help but be reminded we were one short. The last time were were at this restaurant Caleb was with us and Caleb always seemed to be the center of attention wherever we went. I couldn’t help relive that last time in my mind as I surveyed my surroundings and feeling a little hollow hole in my heart. Having Caleb had its challenges compared to having older kids who can take care of themselves. Even walking through the parking lot into the Chinese food place as I scan for hazards I can’t help but be a little less tense because most of our kids are old enough not to walk the parking lot without holding our hand so to speak and follow my verbal lead.
Things are very different and I can’t help but miss Caleb and everything he brought to our family. The dynamics have changed and our youngest is now five years old and that alone is weird. This will be the longest time in our marriage that we didn’t have a child in diapers. So I am trying to accept our new normal but it’s really hard. On the surface it appears OK from the outside but the inside is still very wounded. I wish Caleb could know how much we miss him. The reality that we will not see him again this side of heaven is what makes things so challenging along with all the subtle reminders. The problem I run into is not letting the subtle reminders take me to darker places in my mind where I end up angry, depressed and paralyzed. Taking each day one day at a time and missing that little boy like crazy.
Author: Andrew Dubas
Priceless has a whole new meaning in my life. I say priceless because in every aspect life truly is a priceless gift from God. I say priceless in respect to it’s impossible to weigh on a scale or attach monetary value to a human life. I know on some financial level one can run a formula based on what it cost in dollars to raise a child from birth to adult and this would not be the cost I am referring to. I can’t say I ever considered actual dollar costs when my wife and I wanted to have children. Early on in our marriage, we really did not have much money at all yet made a choice to allow God to decide the size of our family and always relied on God in every respect. I know we had our family who questioned each and every child and how we needed to be a good steward with what we had. In fact, My father-in-law each and every child said he was going to cut my manhood off and the more we had I think the more he would shake his head and grumble in disbelief.
Looking back, God truly has provided for our every need and more. Doors opened and though times were tough at times in the beginning, we remained faithful even when we were going to get food from a food bank when we hit a financial rough patch. It’s not that we wanted to disregard what our family was saying but our desire to put God first in our marriage was all that mattered. Certainly our family did welcome each child and it’s not like they would be willing to send any one of them back. Each child and each life is a gift from God.
Psalm 127:3-5 English Standard Version (ESV)
3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one’s youth.
5 Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate
Psalm 127:3-5 The Message (MSG)
3-5 Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift?
the fruit of the womb his generous legacy?
Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows
are the children of a vigorous youth.
Oh, how blessed are you parents,
with your quivers full of children!
Your enemies don’t stand a chance against you;
you’ll sweep them right off your doorstep.
It’s been 4 months almost to the day since my son Caleb Andrew Dubas went home to be with the Lord and this Sunday evening I was sitting on my couch rehashing his life and counting the cost. I was missing him and I picked up my phone to scroll back to some pictures I keep on my phone. It’s very hard to see him frozen in time and it only amplifies my sorrow yet I needed to see his picture even if for a moment to be reminded of him. My mental pictures only do so much so it’s bitter sweet to have so many photos and video of him. My emotions are still very raw and I could only glance and soak him in for a few moments. The extreme intensity of emotion is not like it was early on but I am very much still counting the cost.
Cost not so much in dollars but an every day toll on my soul, my wife, my marriage and family. We are in the midst of a battle against our adversary and the cost is high and just like life is priceless, so is the cost of losing a child. My feeble attempts at conveying that cost in writing do little justice to the payment required. I’d say its a forever debt. My only refuge is God alone. Some days I try to manage on my own but I am quickly consumed and find myself back on my knees. The only place I find rest is in the Lord. It’s hard to fathom the rest of my life without Caleb and that’s why I stick to one day at a time. As parents, my wife and I always had fears of something like this happening and having so many kids the chances are higher that something tragic could happen. Sure, we’ve had scares and injuries with our kids and but all of this with Caleb has turned things upside down. I can’t really count that cost because it’s on going but I know the price and it’s not a number.
Having traveled this 4 month road, I’m grateful I had God in my life all this time because I’m not sure what my life would be life without Him. There is no doubt God is refining me each and every day and I continue to praise Him for each and every arrow in my quiver. My wife and I will continue to trust God no matter the cost. I often see people requesting prayer for their children for certain situations and easily praise God when things go their way but please do understand that sometimes God says, “No.” and our very response should be to praise him the same in both the good times when it’s easy to but also when it’s hard. Losing Caleb is by far my greatest test in life. I pray God continues to give me the strength. My family and I continue to covet your prayers. Thanks!
Author: Andrew Dubas