Our entire house was entirely packed up the week before boarding a one-way flight to Maui. Ten years of life and marriage and memories were neatly sorted and labeled and boxed away in a single twenty-foot storage unit.
I managed to find a moment alone on that last day, just before we left our high-desert home. Downstairs, friends scurried around gathering all the misfit odds and ends and sweeping out years of dust and memories. Upstairs, I walked down the hallway to the empty extra bedroom in the back of the house that was always supposed to be the baby’s room. Leaning on the wall of the otherwise ordinary room, the weight of its never-met potential sat heavy on my chest.
A movie reel of what could have been played in my mind as I slid to the floor and allowed my mind to dream of the room that I never allowed myself to plan.
The crib would have gone there, I thought, imagining a babe playing on the floor in the beautiful morning light. And the rocking chair would have been there, in the corner. I imagined the tiny hangers holding those fit-for-a-minute clothes and the stack of board books for nighttime routines, and I wondered how tattered the favorite blanket might have gotten.
I sat there for a while, until I found that fine line between acknowledging the pain and indulging in it. And then I stood up. And I wiped the tears. And I breathed a deep breath. And I stepped out of the room, closing the door for the last time on that deeply-rooted dream.
A few hours later, we drove away.
The cursor blinks quietly, waiting for my next words to fill the 4-1/2 year gap between driving away from our house for what I thought would be the last time, and driving away from our home last Wednesday morning for a short 52-hours. In that span of time, I found healing. And in just a few weeks since returning back again in that Psalm-126 kind of resonance, our one-time-house had suddenly become a home.
Last Wednesday morning, we drove away a family of three. And 52 hours later, returned a family of four, that upstairs room hosting grandparents who were there tending to our first-born-miracle. I walked in there yesterday to grab something and, without realizing it, picked up the once-upon-a-time conversation in my mind, absent-mindedly planning the layout for just a few months from now. The crib will go there. And the rocking chair there, in the corner, stripping sheets off the borrowed-bed and closing the door on the room to keep the heat in warm.
Five days ago, our second tiny miracle made his way into the world at 9:28pm. He weighed in at 7lbs 15oz, but the weight of his redemption-story is beyond measure.
Dear Little Babe, I tapped the words out groggy on my phone in the early-morning darkness of end-of-pregnancy insomnia the day before he was born.
If you don’t come on your own in the next 26 hours, we will be heading to the hospital in the morning to start the process of meeting you. I can’t wait to run my fingers across your face, memorizing your features and marveling at how this one heart can possibly love a tiny human this much.
Your brother’s story is one of answered prayer, and while yours is certainly marked all over by the same, it is more of a story of redemption. Of God taking some very heavy things and, quite literally, redeeming the time. You are my coming-home-with-joy story after going-out-weeping, searching for healing. You are my surely-this-is-a-dream, Psalm 126 song in human form. And I still don’t even know your name.
Oh, the process of selecting a name. Last week, during a morning quiet time, I was pointed over to Genesis 2:19-20. And for a moment, I had a little bit of Adam-envy. God had just created all of the animals and brought them to Adam to see what he would name them. Whatever he called each one was its name, and that was it. Super simple.
How in the world did Adam name everything so quickly? I thought, morning-fresh off the previous night’s hour-long, “nothing sounds right” conversation in which we rattled off names from every boy list we could find. It was a trend we continued in the hospital, staving off regular phone calls from the birth records department and nurses questions asking if we had a name yet. It wasn’t until an hour before we left the hospital that we decided on one. It hadn’t been on our discussion list at all but had been a dream of a name for as long as we had been trying for our family.
In some ways, it was a rushed decision. And within hours, I was regretting the choice. It didn’t fit. It was like fitting a square peg into a round hole just because Josh looked at me with tears in his eyes once upon a time and said “that will be our son’s name some day.” Over the years, the name didn’t really belong to us anymore, as hard as I tried to maintain my grip.
I whispered to Josh through tears that I thought we chose the wrong name and can we please just sit on it for a few more days to see how it settles in? So we kept it quiet. And sat with it. And took turns calling our nameless-babe by other names to see how they fit.
Two days had gone by when I was sitting upstairs in the quiet feeding our new little guy while Josh was downstairs with the toddler-tornado that I said one of our short-list names out loud. And it suddenly fit.
“I think we have a name,” I said when I walked downstairs to my family. “I think he’s a Jonathan.”
No sooner had I said it than the tears sprang to my sweet husband’s eyes in the kind of confirmation I didn’t know I needed.
“Are you sure?” he asked. He had kindly given me the reigns on naming this babe after I turned to him in the hospital shortly after Jordan was born and gave him the honor of naming his firstborn son.
A certain peace had settled over me and I knew it was right, though I had fought long and hard against naming this babe with another J name. We are now that family. And name meanings aside, I loved that Jonathan is the very best example of what friendship looks like in the Bible.
And the timing of this babe’s coming-home story, six years after returning home to this house on the heels of burying what was probably the greatest friendship of my life, made choosing a name that encapsulates friendship even more special.
Jonathan Koa Johnson
I cannot wait to see the man he will become some day with a first name rich with friendship and a Maui-nod Hawaiian middle name meaning warrior. I’ve shied away from profound meanings for my children – I’m afraid it can be a lot for one person to live up to. But anyone can be a fiercely loyal friend. Anyone can love another person well. And the importance of friendship is something we will instill in my children. Starting with their own. But, judging from Jordan’s reaction to his new little brother, that shouldn’t be very difficult.
(Huge thank you to Alycia White Photography for these treasures of photographs.)