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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Legacy, Not Longevity

When I talk of my daughter, Melissa, I often say, "It's about legacy, not longevity."

What I mean is that you can live 80 years and still not make an impact. Your life is not measured by the number of years you spent on this Earth. It's measured by the mark you left behind on those who loved you, and on those who never even knew you.

I thought of that tonight as Chris and I entered First Baptist Church of Fayetteville, Tennessee, for Caleb Gill's visitation.

We arrived at 4:10 p.m. - ten minutes after visitation began. As we walked into the church, we realized that we had come through an entrance that took us to the front of the line. So we began to walk to the back of the line.

We kept walking. And walking. And walking.

And walking.

It was unbelievable. At just ten minutes past the hour, the line was already wrapping around the inside of the church.

What a testament to the life of this 7-year-old boy.

Add Chris and I to the list of people who had never met Caleb. We knew Debbie through the NICU and began following her Caring Bridge page soon after Caleb was diagnosed with cancer.

As a reader of Caleb's CB page, we were given this glimpse into their lives. I cried when the news was bad and cheered when days were good. I ached for Debbie as she recently faced the reality that this cancer would claim the life of her precious son. I literally felt sick when I heard the news that Caleb was gone.

As we stood in line, there were televisions along the way playing videos of Caleb's life. The video started with pictures of Caleb as a baby and followed him through his seven years. The photos of him before he was diagnosed with cancer showed a vibrant, beautiful little boy with blond hair. It was set to the song "How Great is our God."

The very first photo showed Caleb's father holding him. The message wasn't lost on me. Debbie's husband passed away a few years ago. I looked at that picture of him holding his son and thought about how they were together again.

From there, the song changed to "Jesus Messiah" and showed pictures of Caleb after he was diagnosed with cancer. There were pictures from their Make-A-Wish trip to Florida, pictures of him with his doctors and nurses and pictures from family get togethers.

As I watched the video with tears in my eyes, I thought how once again Debbie had chosen to glorify God, even through Caleb's death. She put those photos to Christian songs. This woman has lost more in a lifetime than most of us could ever comprehend. She has lost her husband and her child. Still, she chooses to praise God.

I told her tonight that her family had so deeply touched ours. We were so touched by her strong faith in the face of so much adversity. There is no question that God has used Debbie to bring glory to Him. And through his short life, Caleb left a lasting on mark on people who had never even known him.

It's about legacy, not longevity.

On the way home, I just wanted to get home and hug my kids. Things like this make you realize that life is so fragile. We should thank God for each and every moment we have with our children, our husbands and our families. Those moments are truly gifts.

Please continue to pray for Debbie. The funeral is tomorrow, and while it will be a celebration of Caleb's life, it will still be hard for Debbie and her family. She has spent the last nine months taking care of Caleb and is feeling a bit lost right now, not to mention completely heartbroken. Please keep her in your prayers.

(If you are new to my blog, and want to learn more about Caleb, click here.)


Michael Werner said...

My Hart gos out to Caleb's Family

Love my 2 BoYs! said...

Will continue to remember the Gill family in my prayers!