My Sister and My Son


On October 10th, 41 years ago, my sister Jennifer was born. On October 10th, 41 years ago, she passed away. My family has never been the same.

To be honest, throughout my years, October 10th has come and gone without too much fuss. I’ve never known how I’m supposed to feel about the loss of a sibling I never had the privilege to play board games against, or exchange Christmas presents with, or get tickled by, or fall asleep next to on road trips. There are times when I have tried to imagine what life would have been like with her around, but it’s hard to get my head around. I do have a feeling we would have been kindred spirits. And it does sadden me to think of what could have been. But, the significance of October 10th mostly seems surreal, and my feelings and emotions remain vague and disheveled.

However, despite my own confusion, I have always been keenly aware how, as a family, the fog of loss and pain thickens around the 10th of October. Even when the date passed without being spoken of, we all knew how the tragedy of losing our family’s firstborn forever shaped who we are. While I personally have a sense of temporal and emotional distance from the event which that date marks, I have experienced the pain of watching my mother and father suffer with the deep loss of which only parents can know. And thus, October 10th has always been a day for mourning, for grief, for lament, for “why?”–that is, until a year ago today.

Dax Arthur Reese was born on October 10th, and we celebrated his 1-year old birthday today. It was a day of great joy and thanksgiving. I have smiled all day thinking about the fun we have had during this past year. And I have also been thinking how the feelings associated with this date have forever changed. In a sense, October 10th has been redeemed in my family’s history. I don’t mean that the loss of my sister has somehow been negated. The pain is still around. The void is still felt. But, tragedy does not have a definitive claim on this day. The celebration of Dax’s life reminds me that death does not have the final word. We will never forget what was lost on this date, but we also now praise God for what was found. We thank God that October 10th has been redeemed for our family. We can thank God because we believe that, on THAT day, Jennifer and Dax will celebrate together. And what a party it will be.



  1. That’s cool how that day has been redeemed for your family. I did not know that you had a sister named Jennifer. Thanks for sharing.

  2. That last comment was Chad Walters…didn’t mean to be anonymous!

  3. Thank you for sharing this. A beautiful and happy birthday to Dax!

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