Soon I will post the emails we sent friends and family on our 'Gotcha Day'-February 17, 2014...the day we first held our precious Josiah in our arms. But today, I want to take time to remember and honor Isaac, Emma, and Josiah's Uncle Lance.
While we were in China finalizing the adoption of our dear son, we learned that Ricky's brother Lance was not going to survive. He had been battling a host of serious health issues for months and was in the hospital for a major surgery. Before the surgery, he had a massive stroke and would never recover. We learned this news as we sat in Guangzhou, China, our last stop on the paperwork trail to bring our little boy home. And we were so very heartbroken that Lance would not get to meet his precious nephew on this side of heaven.
There are many things I could share about Lance in remembrance of his life on this earth, but as his sister-in-law and mom to his nephews and niece, I would like to talk about what he meant to me as my children's uncle. Lance loved Isaac, Emma, and Josiah more than words could express. He sat in the waiting room while I was in labor with Isaac and Emma. He was one of the first people to hold them in his arms. They must have felt so protected and loved in his strong embrace. I loved that even though he was single with no children and had almost no experience with babies, there he sat in my hospital rooms, holding his swaddled nephew and niece. As they grew, he began to develop a special bond with Isaac. Sometimes when he would visit us, I would find him in the other room reading to Isaac or playing games that are much more fun when played with a fun uncle. Before he started to get really sick, our family spent a very special couple of days together around his 29th birthday. Ricky, Isaac, Emma, Lance, and I went to a beautiful park in Cincinnati and Isaac and Emma were beyond delighted to play with their uncle. This is where I took my favorite picture of Lance ever. He is sitting with Isaac and Emma on his lap with pure joy on his face because of how much he loved spending time with them. The following day, he joined us for Emma's first Reds game and anyone who knows us, knows how special it is to share that moment in time with our family! Every Christmas or birthday, the best gift for the kids would be from Uncle Lance. I especially loved that he could pick out the most special gift for Emma. It could not have been an easy task for him to stand in the girl toy aisle and choose the perfect gift out of all the pink calling out to him. I become overwhelmed in those aisles, but he didn't. He stood there and knew Emma would love the exact stroller he picked out and the exact pink princess rocking horse that sat on the shelf. This past Christmas, Lance was very sick and bed-ridden, but thankfully was home at his parents' house with us for his last Christmas. And even though he had been terribly sick for months, under the tree sat the perfect gifts for Isaac and Emma that he bought over the internet. He bought Isaac a remote controlled Dusty Crophopper from the movie 'Planes' and at the end of the day, Isaac proudly proclaimed 'this is my favorite present!'. Out of all the toys Isaac received for Christmas, it will always be true that his favorite present on Lance's last Christmas on earth with us, was from Uncle Lance. Rest assured that we will be keeping that plane forever, along with Emma's sweet pink princess horse. He knew what Isaac and Emma loved and entered into their world with them.
As we sat in China and learned this news, I wept over the loss of Uncle Lance to my children. For the rest of their lives, the 3 best presents under the Christmas tree will be missing. It was almost too much to bear holding our sweet new son in our laps and thinking about how he will not have his Uncle Lance with him on this side of heaven. It is still hard for me to accept this fact. We learned that one of the last questions Lance was able to answer before he would never regain consciousness was the name of his newest nephew; 'Josiah' he answered proudly when asked by the medical staff to recall the name of his nephew. He loved him so much already. While we were in China, we took a picture of the kids with a sign that said 'Uncle Lance: in our hearts forever.' Ricky and I will spend much time telling them stories of Uncle Lance's love for them so that this will indeed be the case. Although he was no longer conscious, we were able to make it to his hospital room to say goodbye and I sincerely thanked him for the impact he made on our children's lives and will continue to make, even apart from us.
While we rejoice knowing that Lance is healed and whole and truly alive with his beautiful Savior Jesus Christ and will no longer experience pain or suffering, we grieve over the missing presents under the Christmas tree.
"Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me, even if he die, shall live; and whoever lives and believes in Me, shall never die.'" (John 11:25)