Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A Conclusion



At midnight on June 17, 2014, one year ago today, Landon James passed away. Cradled by his mother’s arms and a warm summer night breeze, we spent his last moments on earth as a family, on the back patio of our home, waiting for my 24th birthday.
                In the weeks and months leading to his death, it became increasingly clear to Karen and me that our time with Landon was nearing an end. As Landon’s weakness and discomfort progressed, there were few hopeful or encouraging messages to write. Goat’s sleep was restless and his time awake was often filled with abdominal pain or seizures. Like sunlight at dusk, his energy faded: subtly dimming until suddenly it’s night and you’re unsure exactly when the final rays of light and warmth extinguished. I’m not ashamed to admit that we prayed for his passing in the final days; that it would be peaceful and that we could be together when his time came. If the Lord were to answer only one prayer in my lifetime, I’m thankful it was that one.
I’ve written many conclusions to Landon’s story but could never bring myself to publish them and end the blog. An Adventure with Landon has been my opportunity to let Landon’s life touch as many people as possible. My hope in this effort was that maybe I could encourage people to reflect on their own lives, see the blessings around them, and see an example of the fragility of life but the strength of love. Concluding the blog seemed to mean I was admitting Landon was gone, the final chapter over, and there was nothing left to learn: a very painful prospect. When I recently reread the lessons we’ve learned from Landon, I noticed that in leaving the blog unfinished, I’ve been failing to embrace one of my own observations. Live in the moment because the future is not guaranteed and living in the past only guarantees you cannot enjoy your future.
On that night last June when Landon passed from the arms of his earthly parents to those of his heavenly Father, a whisper of a breeze tousled Landon’s hair. It was the same kind of breeze that welcomed him home from the hospital, enthralled him during his best days, and soothed him during his worst nights. Until we see Goat again, we have the touch of the wind to remind us of him. We have beautiful photos, mementos, and symbols of his time with us. Best of all, we still have the tremendous love of our family, friends, and communities that have carried us through this challenge, helped us celebrate his life during his funeral service, and have not forgotten us after his passing. We would like to thank and bless you all. Karen and I certainly could not have survived that past 26 months without you.
We’ve accomplished a few life goals since Landon’s passing. I’ve graduated from veterinary school and we’ve moved to Canada so that I stay on track for specialization in exotic animal medicine. Karen was inspired by Landon to go back to school. She wants to help families who have or will have a child with disabilities as a genetic counselor, which will require a Master’s degree. Most importantly, we’ve done a tremendous amount of healing in these 12 months. We talk about Landon all the time, and are proud to tell his story if anyone asks. We can walk through the infant and children sections of department stores without blinders on, listen to music that talks about loss without crying, and were able to put away some of clothes and toys for now. We can talk about having future children. All of this progress doesn’t mean that we are leaving Landon behind. It just means that we are bringing him with us into our future the best way we know how.
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

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