Judson's Legacy

True Celebration

November 4, 2007

November 7th will always be a very dark day for our family.  Though Judson was set free from his affliction two years ago on the 7th, my heart recalls his suffering, the manner in which his life was ripped from us, the relinquishment of hope for his healing, the utter brokenness over saying goodbye for a lifetime, and the shock of holding the lifeless frame of my son.  My heart was, itself, lifeless—totally fractured, torn and shred by heartache: full of only grief, sorrow and absolute pain. 

So how do I engage the anniversary of such a day?

I have heard people speak of turning anniversaries of loss into days of celebration…I have marveled.  Though Judson’s life is worthy of much celebration, the darkness of the day leaves little room for merriment and cheer.  How does someone find delight in such a dreadful day?

But as I read the following quote from Henri Nouwen last night, it became apparent to me that I can, and hopefully have been, engaging celebration, in the truest sense of the word, as he describes it.

When we speak about celebration we tend rather easily to bring to mind happy, pleasant, fun festivities in which we can forget for awhile the hardships of life and immerse ourselves in an atmosphere of music, dance, drinks, laughter, and a lot of cozy small-talk.  But [true] celebration has very little to do with this.  Celebration is possible only through the deep realization that life and death are never found completely separate.  Celebration can really come about only where fear and love, joy and sorrow, tears and smiles can exist together.  Celebration is the acceptance of life in a constantly increasing awareness of preciousness.  And life is precious not only because it can be seen, touched, and tasted, but also because it will be gone one day.—Henri Nouwen

Losing Judson has made the deep realizations of the intertwining of life and death deeply apparent to me.  At its basest level I have engaged the intermingling of fear and love, joy and sorrow, tears and smiles.  I have been awakened to the preciousness of life by intimately seeing, touching, and tasting the joy of a beloved little boy and the sorrow because he is now gone.

If these realizations lead to the possibility of true celebration, then on Saturday (and every other day) my sorrow can be seasoned with such celebration as I engage the full spectrum of emotions, thoughts, and memories, allowing Judson’s death to move me toward richer experience and understanding of life.

8 Responses to "True Celebration"

  1. Rebecca Morris says:

    My heart goes out to you . . . I’m grieving with you today, but also celebrating what an incredible, precious gift that Judson’s life was to all of us. (We miss you, Jud!!!) We love you and are lifting you up in prayer, asking God to continue to give you strength and provide comfort during this difficult time.
    With love and prayers,
    Rebecca (

  2. sabrina gavriilidis says:


    As Nov. 7th grows closer, please know your family and especially your little Jud Bud are in my thoughts. I too wonder how I can celebrate a day that brought so much pain. I’m still not sure I can. I’m sorry you lost Jud. His short but wonderful life has made a huge impact.


  3. Lora says:

    Praying for you all!!!

  4. dot cole says:

    It truly is hard to find a way to spend the day we lost our loved ones in a good or happy way or place..
    Memories good and bad tear at us.. our loss is forefront.
    We often feel so overwhelmed, confused..our pain tearing us up inside still.. How do we express how much we love them, miss them, show how glad we are to have had them be a part of our lives,through such deep pain and loss..
    Myself I have found..that on the anniversary each year,I do something or go somewhere that was something or someplace especially special we did or went to that brought immense joy for us..
    My daughter the only place we ever were, was at the hosp..her life although so very precious was also so very short..We didn’t get to to anything together.
    So my memories of her.. are celebrated by going to the hosp and helping out with some of the other children who have no parent there to be there for them..
    To play with them, read to them….. just hold them if it’s possible.. and if there is another parent or family there going through pain an confusion , I try to help comfort them.. and be there ears..Let them know they are not alone..
    As for my pain from losing my soul mate..I celebrate his by going to our most special place ( our castle)the place that was just ours..The place I feel closest to him..
    We all have different ways of acknowledging our day of loss..Not one way is right or wrong, we each need to find what works for us..
    Lately since I have found Judson’s story..I find your families strength and love and your amazing ability to share that wonderfull little son of yours life with us.. Has been an inspiration to me..when I am feeling the pain of my loss…
    Your precious son Judsons strength and infectious smile and joy from him and to you was for sure a gracious gift.. As was yours to him..
    His wee body may no longer be with us.. but be assured his spirit his love is with you , smiling down on you.
    No matter how you chose to deal with that day of losing your precious son,it will be the right way for you and your family,I have faith in you all..
    And once again.. I want to thank you for allowing us all to share in that amazing journey of such a wonderfully strong beautifull son and family…
    I’m so happy your book will be out soon..Congratulations ,, I’m so hoping to be able to get a copy…
    Forever in my thoughts and prayers..


  5. debbie mceachern says:

    That was beautiful and touching Christina, and Dot’s reply was beautiful. I am in tears…I ache for you Christina because I know how much it hurts. Remember that the day you let Jud go was the day he went to Heaven. He is smiling down on you.(I love that image)

  6. Samanta says:

    Oh Christina! I’m a believer, and I’m completely sure Judson is extremely proud for having such a brave and strong "mami", as we refer with love to our mum, in spanish.
    These days I’m thinking a lot about Judson, you and your beautiful family. May God will continue touching all of you with his wonderful grace and compassion.
    All my blessings to you from my heart,

    Samanta xxx

  7. hh says:

    i have been thinking of you and praying for you so much today, Christina. my heart is with you, especially this week. i love the quote you found and shared with us about true celebration. powerful!

    i love you, my beautiful, brave friend.

    huge hugs to you
    from heather

  8. Amy says:

    I am so glad to read this quote. It has really bothered me when people have had "Celebration Services" instead of funerals in recent years – especailly in the case of a child’s death. I can’t help but think, "As much good as there is to remember… I cannot ‘celebrate’ today." while I am attending them. I have 2 nephews that have passed away at the age of 19, and neither funeral service was a ‘celebration’ – in the sense of the word the way that I was used to using it. In fact, at one of them, the music minister’s attempt at ‘celebrating’ was pretty offensive to me. Anyway, I think that I can view these services from a different perspective now, having read this quote. Thank you, as always, Christina, for putting into words the things that I think so many need to hear! God bless you!

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