In those hours and days after Mattie passed, I was honored to come along side John and Tracie and invited to share in their grief. Walking with friends through life, especially in these moments, was horrible and beautiful all at once. Although many of these moments were personal and sacred, I can bring you in on the lessons John and Tracie taught me during this time.
Life is precious
Mattie was a miracle. From the moment he was born (and long before), God had tremendous purpose for his life. Born with special needs and needing constant support and care, by the world’s standards Mattie might be seen as a burden. But his family and those closest to him would tell you Mattie was anything but that. Without hesitation we can tell you that Mattie was a gift. His smile was infectious, his joy was contagious, and he spoke hope to those around him without ever using his voice. As Tracie shared at her son’s memorial service, it was clear that this mama knew from the beginning that her son was a miracle, knit together by the hands of God.
Family is to be cherished
The Loux family loves big. The fabric of their family is made of unconditional acceptance, welcoming the least of these, and lots of laughter. John and Tracie have an amazing ability to be intentional and purposeful about knowing each of their children’s hearts and calling each of them to their God-given identity. During the memorial service, I watched as John did this personally for each member of their family. Those were holy moments as he stood behind Mattie’s casket and spoke blessings as a husband and a father. He told each of them he was in it with them, he would wrestle with the hard stuff alongside them, and that he loved them uniquely and individually. You can read more of John’s words here. It's so worth it.
We are made to love and be loved.
Mattie’s older sister-in-law shared at his service that Mattie existed to love and be loved. Amy spoke eloquently of Mattie and the challenge his life brought to all of us to love boldly and accept love from others. Mattie was loved fiercely by his family who took continual joy from his life. And without speaking any words, Mattie could communicate his adoring love for those around him. For years, Mattie needed the help of a tracheostomy to breathe. The Loux's claimed "Don't Forget to Breathe" as their mantra while Mattie was with them and fighting for breath. Mattie's sister, Isabelle shared, "All this time we thought we were teaching him how to breathe when really, he was teaching us." For his several short years on earth, Mattie gave us a picture of what true love and living really is. At Mattie's celebration service, pinwheels were everywhere to honor Mattie and the air he's breathing freely now.
Just weeks before Mattie was born and John and Tracie were anticipating him joining their family through adoption, she shared this on Facebook:
I could hold back love until it feels safe, but that’s not the way it works. He loved us before we loved Him, with no guarantee of love returned choosing to walk out the gospel through adoption. I will love now, no strings attached.
I stood with Tracie over her son’s casket and reminded her of these words. John and Tracie loved Mattie in a way that only the gospel can give grace and meaning to.
Words fail as we think of Mattie’s impact on the world around him, the adoption and life movement, and especially those closest to him. Though his heart was sick it was never weak. His life was short but his impact was lasting.
Mattie was little but his life was mighty.
These past days have been a testimony of Mattie’s impact on the world. Tracie told his story through her blog and social media and his life touched so many. People who never met Mattie knew his smile. Those who never had a chance to hold him came to honor him last Wednesday. There were children in wheelchairs, medical professionals who had cared for Mattie, and hundreds of others whose lives had been affected by this little boy who came to celebrate his life. At last count, the Facebook page created to remember him had reached over 52,000 people. If you search the hashtag #selfisundayformattie and you’ll see hundreds of posts to honor Mattie. Tracie started the hashtag encouraging families to capture and cherish the moments they are blessed to share together.
The reality is that Mattie's life was full of difficulty and struggle. I watched as John and Tracie agonized over his health and his care. But in her last note to her son, written on Mattie’s casket, Tracie said she would do it a million times over. Although parts of Mattie's life was filled with ache, it was also filled with immeasurable joy and love that far outweighed everything else.
Loux family, you taught us that all of life is precious, that family is to be honored and cherished, and that we are each made to love and be loved. Thank you for sharing your boy with the world.
We miss you, Mattie Sam. Your life continues to be a miracle.