Many of you know around 17 months ago, my wife Stephanie and I lost our youngest son Carson, when he was not quite two years old. I shared a bit as we were walking through that tragedy which you can read more about here. My life has been dramatically transformed. Inside out. Outside in. Perspective of life changed in a moment. This has been an incredible journey for both me and Stephanie. To navigate through losing a child, our youngest, when he was still just a toddler. On the other side of that, choosing to find a new normal. There is simply no “going back to normal” after an event like ours. There is only a daily discovery of what a “new normal” looks like. I’m so incredibly thankful for the courage and personal growth my wife has had through this entire process, as I’m confident this experience has transformed her even more than me.
When Stephanie and I got married, we had talked about having four kids. After having Carson (our third), she felt peace that we weren’t going to have any more. In fact…pregnancy, birth, and the first two years for each kid had been incredibly difficult for Stephanie. For whatever reason, our three kids tended to suffer from colic and couldn’t sleep more than an hour for the first several months (probably due to lack of nutrition, celiac, and gluten intolerance that they get from Stephanie). Eighteen months ago, the thought of having another kid terrified Stephanie. Months after losing Carson, we started talking and praying about our family and whether or not we were “done”. We wanted so badly to honor Carson’s memory, while seeking God’s guidance on whether or not we should continue expanding our family. There is simply no way to “replace” Carson, and we would never want that shadow over a child we love dearly. Both Stephanie and I felt like the story wasn’t over yet, and that we had more love to give. We believed in faith that our God is a God who redeems that which is lost, and restores that which is broken. After many months of prayer (and fasting), we decided to move forward in pursuing pregnancy and potentially adoption down the road. I’m incredibly excited to share that our son Asher Jedidiah Young has been born! September 9th around 7:30PM, 7 lbs. 13 ounces and 20.5 inches.
Part of the journey and healing process is embracing and stepping through the pain, recognize that while it changes who I am at my core, it does not need to hinder or distract me from moving forward, walking in my calling and destiny. Tragedy, catastrophe, disaster, painful and tough things will happen in life. There’s no escaping it. Far too many people allow their lives to be derailed from these events, never breaking a cycle or overcoming a roadblock, and miss out on the purpose and fulfillment that comes from growing through these experiences. Through countless counseling sessions, prayer, and continuous dialogue, Stephanie and I have come to recognize this event in our lives represents a chasm.
Catastrophe and The Chasm
The more significant the devastation, catastrophe, disaster, trauma, tragedy, or event, the wider the chasm in life, and the harder it is to cross over. Life is filled with many “chasm” events. For many, recent geopolitical events and natural disasters are their chasm. For me and Stephanie, one side of our chasm represents the life we had prior to losing Carson 17 months ago on April 4th, 2016. Eighteen months ago, life looked a certain way. Our beliefs, outlook and perspective were shaped by the experiences we had leading up to that point. We had a good life. On the other side of the chasm is life after April 4th. We’re not the same people we were on the previous side of the chasm. The event has changed us to our core. At the same time, the event amplified character qualities and beliefs that were already inside of us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed. Perplexed, but not driven to despair. Struck down, but not destroyed. It’s all about the journey. Our lives are better, having walked through it together. I love deeper. I care more genuinely. I recognize more clearly those who love me with their words and their actions. I am much more intentional to pay attention to the things that matter most, prioritizing these things over areas or situations that I cannot personally change. I recognize that the solution to aggression, hate and bigotry is genuine love and the gifts that come from love (empathy, compassion, kindness, goodness). I am far more grounded in my identity. As a Father. As a Son to my earthly fathers and my Father in Heaven. I recognize that when I die, the legacy that I will leave is shaped by this chasm event. Our family tree has been changed forever.
In one aspect Asher is our fourth child. But after our journey, this pregnancy and birth has felt much more like our first. Our first pregnancy and birth, after crossing the chasm. We have had to walk through many “firsts” after losing Carson. First holidays. First birthdays. First family vacations. After crossing the chasm, things feel new, different. Not all good, but not all bad. Not all joyous, not all sad. Different. There were many aspects of Asher’s birth that were confirmation that this truly was a “first” experience. All three of our other babies were born on Mondays. All three of our other babies were born in the morning. Asher was the first baby born into our family’s forever home. We waited until birth to find out the gender of our other babies. With Asher, given the circumstances, we felt it was important to process that aspect of birth and know his name before he arrived, so we found out during an ultrasound. This was the first labor we had Christian worship music playing as we prayed and pressed into delivery. The last contraction as Asher was being born, a song that has touched my heart deeply was playing (Elevation Worship’s “Do It Again” by Mack Brock). “Your promise still stands. Great is Your faithfulness, faithfulness. I’m still in Your hands. This is my confidence, You never failed me yet.” Soaking into the moment with this song brought me to tears thinking of God’s goodness in carrying me through the toughest moments of my life, and the lives of my family. First time I cried during childbirth. Many firsts. Let me share with you a little about how we came to decide his name.
When we found out we were having another son, we knew that we needed to spend some time talking and praying about his name and the significant behind it. Asher is a Hebrew name which means happy one and blessed. This was the name that was given to the son of Jacob (Israel) and represents one of the twelve tribes of Israel (Genesis 30:13). Our two kids (Jade and Addison) were also very excited to hear they would have another brother, as they have really missed Carson. We felt confirmation the name Asher was fitting given what Moses said regarding Asher in Deuteronomy 33:24: ““Asher, best blessed of the sons! May he be the favorite of his brothers, his feet massaged in oil.” It is important for us that Asher have favor amongst his siblings, and through the last nine months, we know how much they already care for their baby brother.
As Stephanie and I were mourning the loss of Carson, seeking counsel, and searching the scriptures, we discovered there were very few references to parents losing children in the Bible. One that we found documented was from King David in 2 Samuel 12. The story of David and Bathsheba’s affair is fairly well known. David and Bathsheba had a son, who died from sickness while David pleaded, wept, prayed and fasted to God. This story came to Stephanie the day we lost Carson. After hearing news that his son died, it says that David got up from laying prostate on the ground, dusted off, cleaned up, and ate. After David and Bathsheba lost their first, they had another son, who they named Jedidiah. He was named Jedidiah “because the Lord loved him” and so his name was known as Beloved, friend of God. Jedidiah was also known as King Solomon (which means Peaceable), who was known as the wisest, wealthiest man of all time, and reigned during the most peaceful time in Israel’s history. It says that God said to Solomon ask for whatever you want and I will give it to you. Solomon asked for Wisdom and Knowledge. In 2 Chronicals 1:11-12, “God said to Solomon, ‘Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, possessions or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, possessions and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.'”
Thank you for sharing in this journey with us. Through your words, actions, prayers, or thoughts for our family. May you be blessed by our story of redemption and restoration as we welcome Asher Jedidiah Young into our family.
Dane (and Stephanie) Young