She drove off with your shirts but it felt like she was driving off with all that was left of you.

We don’t have much. But we have each shirt you wore and I can still see you in them.

I want to keep them tucked away and safe forever. Folded up and in the room where I used to find you.

I remember sorting laundry on hard days when everyone was still small enough to need me and thinking, “Someday I’ll be thankful I got to fold these little clothes. This won’t last forever.” And then I would pray for you as I handled your jeans with the grass-stained knees and your t-shirts with the stretched-out necks. One day when I wasn’t looking, YOU stepped in and sorted a “sapriz” on my bed, complete with initials for everybody’s pile.

“Someday” is here and I would give anything to go back to Toddler size 4. Back before we knew the weight of the world that would kill us both, you in an instant, and us for the rest of our lives.

We both died that day. Your dad and I are new people, and you are newest of all. You have a new home, and a new body, new purposes and a new life.

We have a new home. It’s for 5, not 6. We have new bodies that ache with longing. We have a new purpose to see God in all of it, and a new life to get through because gravity has doubled.

I’m sacrificing these shirts so they can be made into something new. We will wrap ourselves in the love it took to make your memory quilt. We’ll feel each shirt we used to hug when you were inside them.

We couldn’t do it on our own. We’d never make it. God spurred the ones who loved you to make this happen. I wish you knew how many people jumped at the chance to be a part of this quilt’s journey. Maybe you do know!

Did you see Wanda not resting until she made it all happen? Did you see Morgan lovingly washing each item and not letting anyone else do it? Did you see Brittany flying all of your shirts back home so they wouldn’t get lost in the mail? Did you see Sally and Larry driving them an hour away to their final destination?

It made your dad and I grasp in a small way how much God loves us. He wanted to drape you around us. He wanted the clothing you used to wear to come out into the light and life of our new family of 5. God’s in the business of scooping up ashes of tragedy and saying, “Behold!”

God makes all things new. Even the shirts that once clothed my dear boy.

Dear God, I never knew you were going to use what I loved most to teach me who You are. I know more about sacrifice and longing than I’ve ever wanted to know. But it’s still just a fraction of the pain You went through, Yourself, to save us. I’m beginning to see how precious that is. I hope you let Tristan see the quilt. Can you tell him all about it? Can we feel Your hugs and his hugs when it’s finally draped around us?  I want to feel the weight and remember. In Jesus most Holy and precious name, Amen.