Nine months. That’s how long Chandler resided in complete comfort and safety before making his entrance into the world. I felt him kick and roll. Undoubtedly practicing some upside down maneuvers he would repeat later on a bike or off a bridge. I would often push down on my protruding belly to try and coax his tiny heels off my ribs. I loved him more than can ever be imagined before I ever saw him.
Nine months. That’s how long it’s been since I have seen my son’s chest rise and fall.
I saw him take his first breath. And I saw him take his last.
It is too much to grasp. Just too much.
I have prayed for signs, for anything that hints at, “Mom, I’m here. I’m OK.” This morning I opened my Jesus Calling devotional. There on the first page of October’s readings was a burning candle. I got in the car to drive to work and turned on my Pray As You Go app. The image accompanying today’s reading was a burning candle.
As Charli so poignantly expressed at Chandler’s memorial service, Chandler means “candle maker.”
I sat down in my office and looked at the beautiful candle my sweet friend Daisha gave me — Chandler’s words about me from his instagram account illuminated by the flickering flame.
Is it candles? Is that my special sign? I don’t know. I just know that this morning, I felt like Chandler was trying to tell me everything is going to be OK. That he is OK. That his light still burns brightly.
Tonight I went to his bike memorial. I cleaned up the dried out flowers and replaced them with fresh flowers. I had stopped by Trader Joe’s to pick up daisies, and when I checked out, the young man asked, “Are you Mrs. Espinoza?” Turns out, I know him from his days as a Mission Hills student, and he knows Chance from worship band back in the day. He knows our story. He went and grabbed a bunch of bright, colorful flowers to take to the bike. To honor Chandler. Thank you, Austin.
None of us know what the next nine months will hold. What I do know is that, for me, these past nine months have been marked by the worst and the best. Let’s just be clear — I would trade all the “best” to change the “worst.” Since that’s not on the table, I want to say how grateful I am for family, for friends, for community who have come alongside and been our advocates, our encouragers, our providers on so many levels. I am grateful to wake up to this morning’s reminders of my son — my Candle Maker. Thank you, God, for carrying us through these nine months. My trust is in you. You will carry us through nine more. Amen.