21 years ago, on March 16, 1994, my parents were in the hospital, waiting for the birth of their first child: a baby boy they'd given the name Philip.
21 years ago, one of the best days of my parents' lives turned into the worst when something went inexplicably wrong, and even an emergency c-section couldn't save him.
21 years ago, Philip was born dead.
Obviously, I never knew Philip: I was born a little over a year after this happened. And two years after me, my younger brother Ian was born. We're a very happy little family, and we love each other a whole lot. But sometimes I wonder what it would have been like growing up with an older brother.
Of course, you hear all the stories of how older brothers torment their younger siblings tirelessly, but I'm never too worried about that. Fighting and unfairness were never really tolerated with just two of us, and knowing my dad, it wouldn't have been tolerated with three of us, either.
Even though I never knew him, I miss Philip. I miss all the things we've never done together; all the conversations we've never had together; all the things he could have been and done. Would he have a girlfriend now? What would he be taking in college or university? What would he want to be? Would he enjoy travelling like me and mom, or prefer to stay home like dad and Ian? What would be his favorite food? Color? Would he play video games like the rest of us? Would he like animals, and would he be allergic to cats like mom and Ian? Would he have blue eyes, like his siblings? Would he have wild dreams and ambitions, or a simple life goal? I wish I knew. I wish we could have experienced this and more with him.
However, our life might have been very, very different if Philip had lived that day. Not only because there would be five people instead of four people in our family, but because Philip's death led to my mom's salvation. If Philip hadn't died, would mom have become a Christian? Would the love of God flow from the very walls of our house, as it does now? Maybe. Dad was already a Christian, so maybe he would've been able to get through to her. Or maybe she would have left. Or maybe dad would have abandoned his fledgling faith in order to avoid tension in the household. Maybe my brother and I never would have gone to church, or been homeschooled, or become Christians ourselves. Maybe we wouldn't have the wonderful, wonderful friends that we have now, and maybe we wouldn't have the peace and assurance that God offers so freely.
Only God knows what our lives would have been like. Only God knows what Philip would have been like. But I know that God is taking good care of Philip right now. I know that Philip is having a better life in Heaven than he ever could have had on earth, and I know that one day, we'll join him there, and meet him for the first time.
Whatever may have been, whatever we might have experienced together .... I miss you. Happy birthday, Philip.