Certain birthdays seem especially significant. Some birthdays deserve a party. Forty. Eighteen. Thirteen.
Five years ago, we were looking forward to the most party-worthy birthday of all – our first-born son’s actual birth. Ladies had already thrown him parties in Louisville, Dunsmuir, Jeffersonville, and Riverside—he was able to enjoy the parties snuggled up inside his Mom. His room was ready. His young Dad was nervous but so excited.
Five years ago, I was working the third shift at UPS, and remember checking my pager fifty times a night to see if Stephanie had gone into labor yet. I remember sitting on the floor next to the crib in his empty, blue room before I headed to work. I would look at that crib and let the overwhelming feeling of responsibility flow over me. I would look forward to holding him. I would pray with tears in my eyes that God would make me a good Dad.
Five years ago, today, Paul Hudson Rogers was stillborn at Norton hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. I remember the ultrasound that failed to find his heartbeat. I prayed, “God help us,” a thousand times that night, and a million times that year. God answered and he helped.
Five years ago, today, we held our beautiful son’s body. Paul was strong. He was big. I wish we had held him longer. But no matter how long we would have held him, I’m sure I’d still feel the same way. Nothing is long enough when all you want is forever.
Five years ago, rather than having a party, we had a funeral. Over one-hundred people came out to celebrate Paul’s short life. I remember most of them. Pastor Cook reminded us that Jesus loves children and of the resurrection of the dead.
Today, is Paul’s fifth birthday. He is still my son, and I am still that same young Dad with tears in my eyes wanting to be the best Dad for him I can be. I can’t throw him a party with cake and baseball and a bunch of his friends. But today we will celebrate Paul’s fifth birthday. We will go out to eat with his little sisters. We will remember him. We will remember Jesus’ love. And we will look forward to the resurrection.
Happy birthday, Paul. Your Mommy and Daddy love you. See you soon.