I wept with aching joy last year when I received mini boxing gloves from one of Eli’s uncles. “Little” and “Warrior” are embroidered on each hand, the nickname we gave our son because he regularly had his fists raised during ultrasounds. He did it so often that our doctor struggled to capture images of his face throughout the pregnancy. One time he even snapped a picture of him holding up his middle finger, joking that our son had “womb rage”. We debated whether Eli was being rebellious like his dad or sassy like his mom.
From the moment we learned our son’s diagnosis, his favorite stance became the posture of our family. His fatal condition threw us in the ring for the fight of our lives.
We endured the unbearable weight of his imminent death while we fully gave ourselves to love him unconditionally.
We have fought to honor Eli’s life, share his story, and make sure he is never forgotten.
We fight to move forward from his death but we will never move on. He will always be a part of our lives as we suffer the sting of living without him.
We have struggled for joy in the midst of sorrow, honesty in the midst of the storm, and hope that is not shallow.
We continue to contend with our God. We resist the pressure of fabricated praise but stubbornly refuse to walk away from our Savior. Our struggle with him was visceral for a long time, but our wrestling is now in the waiting.
And we fight to remember that Christ is the one who fights for us. He loves us and Eli and hates death more than we do. So much so that he fought death by putting his own fists down. He conquered death by being conquered by it.
We are a family of limping fighters who belong to the wounded victor.
As these gloves hang in my office–the room that would have belonged to Eli–they remind me of my son’s defiant fists, my frail yet resilient family, and a tribe that desperately misses their little warrior.
And we fight to trust our suffering King who is fighting for us even now.