My son became a father six years ago. The night that he and his wife, my beloved daughter in law, broke the news to us that they were expecting a child will go down in history as one of the most exquisite of my life. The tsunami of grief that swept over them when they later lost their precious son by a mysterious miscarriage overwhelmed me as it rushed to shore.
I watched them walk in it and through it. I witnessed them grieve from the very depths of their being - a primal grief, a connection to all of life and to all of death through all of time. Step by painful step, the high water imperceptibly receded. Slowly, I watched as they healed – as much as one can heal on this side; embracing the reality of their loss, allowing it to profoundly change them, weaving their son forever into the fabric of their shared story, the very fiber of their souls, loving him until that cherished moment when they will embrace for the first time and daring to choose life over and over and over and over again.
Then their little girl came along. Wonder of wonders. She leaves me speechless - that light of glory. Then their first son on this side. Joy beyond telling. Fireworks in my heart. And three weeks ago, born in my son’s childhood bedroom, came their next son. I was there as an honored witness as that trailing flame of heaven made his entrance.
But for now, I want to try to answer the question my daughter asked me. “What is it like seeing your son become a father?” I should have an answer at the ready - my second son has two children as well – and a daughter in heaven too. Oh, the exquisite joy of loving. Oh, the immeasurable agony of loss.
But what is it like to see my children have children? It is a difficult question to answer. It is something out of time, out of language, out of the realm of a quick response.
It is a wonder. It is holy. It is how it is meant to be. It is, strangely enough, not strange at all. It is something out of earth and water, mud and fire, breath and time. It combines the surety of the sunrise with the beauty of the sunset, the inevitability of mourning with the defiance of dancing. It is the culmination of joy laced with eternity. It is the exhale after a long-held breath. It is the beauty of sunlight on water after a tempest. It is the first warm air of a spring morning following a long winter. It is the daring embodiment of hope. It. Is. Glorious.
Yesterday was my son’s birthday. In the midst of a messy, challenging, chaotic and beautiful day, he gave his four-year-old daughter a pedicure. She asked him to take a picture of her lovely toes afterwards and send it to me. He did a marvelous job. He had first bathed her feet and then with brushstrokes of love, he spoke volumes to her little heart that she is a treasure beyond worth. Worth time. Worth effort. Worth affection. Worth seeing. Worth attending. Worth bowing down low to and washing her feet. It reminds me of Someone else.
And in that precious and somewhat normal act is found all the wonder of the world. To see my son love, unabashedly love, sacrificially love, love in a way that exceeds thought or the millisecond of choice, fills me with awe and worship. My Faithful God has done this. My Jesus bears love, and he bore it in me, and it is borne in my son and it bears life through his. It is Tov. It is Good. It is a good that bears life unto life unto life.
It is the glory of the King. It is the wonder of world.
What is it like to see my children have children? You have my answer.