As Caleb’s birthday approaches on April 6th and as much as I try to run from my son’s death, the more I get reminded there’s no other way other than to find healthy ways to process his passing. My default is to suppress and ignore it as mush as I can. The problem is there’s always this undercurrent of truth in the background and that reality always seems to find a way to surface contrary to my best efforts. As an example, last week I pulled up my phone and opened Facebook to clear my notifications and the first in my feed was a “Facebook Memory” from 3 years ago of my son Caleb. Being very tech orientated I proudly posted a lot of video and pictures of my son during his short life on Facebook and I am now plagued with reminders on Facebook from years past and just last week a reminder video I don’t recall seeing or taking popped up and I felt compelled to watch. The first few seconds were OK but I found myself flashing back and then getting angry about his loss of which led to this Facebook post:
Though the above Facebook post was a moment in time that does reflect how I feel all the time, it just goes to show quickly the truth can surface and how vulnerable I am to bubble over with emotions I normally do my best not to experience. Having a new son has been a great distraction but I’ve had some weird dreams about him and water and drowning and as much as we keep our new baby on a short leash I am reminded I am really not in control of outcomes. God is the ultimate decider of my fate and of all things and I can only do my best to accept his will and keep my attitude in check.
I’ve watched my faith become very strong and very strained though this process of recovery. As I mentioned to my wife the other day the most difficult thing to do when processing is trying to convey feelings with the limitations of the human language. There just isn’t a way or enough descriptive words to accurately describe the range of emotions and pain and deep sense of loss. Some days even when I want to imagine the good times with Caleb it quickly turns to the reality he will never be coming back and I won’t see him again on this side of heaven and for that matter what will heaven even be like with Caleb and will I even know who he is? Too many unknowns apart from what I know to be true and that is the pain and loss of losing a child here on this earth.
I can’t say I have a good way to process all of the icky emotions that surface and they usually go to anger. I guess i’m pissed off and there isn’t a way to make that go away right now and I’m not sure that it has to in this part of my life as I am still learning. This will be a life long process and I will take where I am today with great functionality over the pain I felt in the first days and weeks after Caleb past away. One thing I do find that helps is to check my perspective and there is one passage that makes it real and it’s found in Job in the bible where God says to Job (Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?): Job obviously went through a lot of stuff that God allowed to happen and when Job was finally questioning God his response is remarkable and also helps me keep my own pride in check. God created everything and I am at his mercy.
Job 38New King James Version (NKJV)
The Lord Reveals His Omnipotence to Job
38 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said:
2 “Who is this who darkens counsel
By words without knowledge?
3 Now prepare yourself like a man;
I will question you, and you shall answer Me.
4 “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding.
5 Who determined its measurements?
Surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
6 To what were its foundations fastened?
Or who laid its cornerstone,
7 When the morning stars sang together,
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
8 “Or who shut in the sea with doors,
When it burst forth and issued from the womb;
9 When I made the clouds its garment,
And thick darkness its swaddling band;
10 When I fixed My limit for it,
And set bars and doors;
11 When I said,
‘This far you may come, but no farther,
And here your proud waves must stop!’
12 “Have you commanded the morning since your days began,
And caused the dawn to know its place,
13 That it might take hold of the ends of the earth,
And the wicked be shaken out of it?
14 It takes on form like clay under a seal,
And stands out like a garment.
15 From the wicked their light is withheld,
And the upraised arm is broken.
16 “Have you entered the springs of the sea?
Or have you walked in search of the depths?
17 Have the gates of death been revealed to you?
Or have you seen the doors of the shadow of death?
18 Have you comprehended the breadth of the earth?
Tell Me, if you know all this.
19 “Where is the way to the dwelling of light?
And darkness, where is its place,
20 That you may take it to its territory,
That you may know the paths to its home?
21 Do you know it, because you were born then,
Or because the number of your days is great?
22 “Have you entered the treasury of snow,
Or have you seen the treasury of hail,
23 Which I have reserved for the time of trouble,
For the day of battle and war?
24 By what way is light diffused,
Or the east wind scattered over the earth?
25 “Who has divided a channel for the overflowing water,
Or a path for the thunderbolt,
26 To cause it to rain on a land where there is no one,
A wilderness in which there is no man;
27 To satisfy the desolate waste,
And cause to spring forth the growth of tender grass?
28 Has the rain a father?
Or who has begotten the drops of dew?
29 From whose womb comes the ice?
And the frost of heaven, who gives it birth?
30 The waters harden like stone,
And the surface of the deep is frozen.
31 “Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades,
Or loose the belt of Orion?
32 Can you bring out Mazzaroth[a] in its season?
Or can you guide the Great Bear with its cubs?
33 Do you know the ordinances of the heavens?
Can you set their dominion over the earth?
34 “Can you lift up your voice to the clouds,
That an abundance of water may cover you?
35 Can you send out lightnings, that they may go,
And say to you, ‘Here we are!’?
36 Who has put wisdom in the mind?[b]
Or who has given understanding to the heart?
37 Who can number the clouds by wisdom?
Or who can pour out the bottles of heaven,
38 When the dust hardens in clumps,
And the clods cling together?
39 “Can you hunt the prey for the lion,
Or satisfy the appetite of the young lions,
40 When they crouch in their dens,
Or lurk in their lairs to lie in wait?
41 Who provides food for the raven,
When its young ones cry to God,
And wander about for lack of food?
(the passage continues in Job 39 etc so please read the rest)
What it comes down to is that I am not in control and God is. All things good and bad are for His glory and when I get mad at God I remind myself of the passage where God said to Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” God has a plan for everything and everything happens for a reason whether I like it or not. Life has given me a lot of emotional tattoos and it has made me who I am today and one day it will all be made right regardless what this world throws at me and I look forward to the peace heaven will bring.
On April 6, Caleb Andrew Dubas would have been 4 years old and I can only imagine what he would be like. There are so many things I miss about him and in so many ways I can imagine how he would be but those aspects are fantasy that I only entertain for short periods of time so I don’t end up down the emotional rabbit hole of pain. One thing is for sure both Caleb’s birthday and his death day still hold a strong placeholder in my world and I will continue to process his loss. I will continue to ask for prayer as Tiffany and I still battle with this loss. I am not sure how often I will write or if anyone is listening… I just wish Caleb was here so I could wish him a happy birthday. I miss him deeply and I will continue to lean on God for strength because it is his will in my life not mine that will be done and I am reminded of that on a regular basis.
Author: Andrew Dubas