friday flashback

Tonight as I was picking up the living room I decided to actually sort through one of my infamous piles o' stuff rather than just move it to a secondary location (which is my preferred method for managing my many piles o' stuff). There were magazines, a few pieces of the kids school work, a card Jim gave me for Valentines day a year or two ago... just a bunch of hodge podge things that haven't found a home yet. As I discarded, sorted, and put away, I came across a folded envelope that I initially put in the discard file, til it landed with a "thud" and I realized it was not empty. Opening it, I found an eclectic group of pictures, some of Zach as a baby, one of me on my first birthday, Easter pics of the kids from two different years, a picture of me and my mom (I may or may not be organizationally challenged....) and among them this picture...

That's five year old me holding my six week old baby brother, Christopher. Sweet Chris was born on October 12, 1981 and we soon learned that he had Werdnig-Hoffman Disease. Even as a child, I remember that term carrying great weight. I recall my mom explaining to others that it was a kind of Muscular Dystrophy (it is also known as Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Type I). I recall her explaining to us that Baby Chris would not be with us for long, but that we were going to love him with everything we had for every moment of his life. 

I am not sure how a child is supposed to process this kind of information, but it seems that for me it just became a natural part of our life. Our dining room table was moved to make room for his special crib and all of the machines he had to be hooked up to. Our daily routine included home health aides and nurses coming in to help with his care. At times, mom had to be gone with Chris to the hospital, but most of the time he got to be home with us. I am not sure how my parents managed to balance the strain of a terminally ill child with the needs of two other children... but they did. They allowed our life to feel "normal" even in the midst of such chaos. We sat out on the porch swing. We colored pictures. We hunted Easter Eggs. And we loved each other. 

And then, when he was only eleven months old, mom had the terrible job of coming home and telling us that Baby Chris had passed away. I wanted to comfort my mom, and so I said "it's okay Mommy, he is with Jesus now!" I don't want you to misunderstand... I missed my little brother. I still do. I wonder what a 20 year old Christopher Talley would have looked like. I wonder what it would have been like to grow up with yet another little brother. But, in that moment, all I could think was he is with Jesus. He wins! No more pain, no more needles, no more feeding tubes, no more trache care... he is with Jesus. 

I think about my own life. I think about how Paul struggled with whether it was better to be here, doing God's work, or in eternity standing in awe of the One who is our all in all. No matter what... we win. Chris was such a special person, that he was able to accomplish his purpose in just eleven months (it takes most of us a little longer than that to figure it out). Today as I think about him... I'm sure he's hanging out with my Daddy, worshiping Jesus with all that they have in them. And some day I will get to stand along side them... but until then, I will just keep putting one foot in front of the other on this crazy path God is calling me down. 

Baby Chris was only here a short while, but he had a big, big impact on a lot of lives. Because of him, my family began going to church, and my daddy came to know Jesus. Because of him, I have always held my own kids a little tighter and tried to raise them in the light of eternity- knowing that regardless of what this life may bring, we who are in Christ Jesus can trust in our happily-ever-after. 

If God could use a baby to effect so much change in eleven short months... what can He do with you, if only you would say "yes"? Trust Him. Trust the crazy path He is calling you down...if you are here, He has  something He has purposed for you to do since before the foundation of this world was laid (mind-boggling, isn't it?!) Follow Him! You can't go wrong! If you trust Jesus... you win.

For me to, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith... Philippians 1:21-25

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