Below are three very special tributes to Luke from three very special people... Jack Smith, Nicol's youngest brother; Angela Wardwell, my sister; and Annelise Wardwell, my 10 year old niece. Jack had sent us his thoughts in an email about six weeks after Luke died, and he shared it with everyone last week at Luke's service. My sister sent her thoughts, and some verses Annelise had picked out in memory of Luke, just the other day.
I thought you may enjoy reading these. They mean so much to us because they capture some beautiful thoughts and memories we have of our boy. We miss him so much.
Thanks Jack, Sis, and 'Lise. We love you guys.
Memories of Lukey
July 12, 2008
Nicol, you asked me to write some memories of Luke a while ago but I've been unable to write it in one sitting. Either the tears or grief would get in the way of my words and cause me to postpone continuing. It's been difficult considering the grief we have experienced the last few months. I have cried more in the last weeks than I care to remember. I cry because of the pain and loss you and Greg have suffered. But I also cry because of the joy Luke gave to me in our short time together and I will miss not having more moments with him. I will cherish the short time we had forever and keep them in my heart. Luke's life has already profoundly impacted me. I realize more the gift that my children are and when I am being consumed with the grind of life, I recall the memories I have of your sweet boy and it stills my heart. His memory slows me down and gives me much needed perspective. Luke's life has left an imprint on the walls of my heart and itwill continue to do so.
One of the first things that come to mind when I think of Luke are his eyes. Not only were they a deep, deep blue but they held you captive. When you're eyes met with his, you had no choice but to stare. He was truly spellbinding! If it's true that the eyes are the window to the soul, then Luke had a bright one. His eyes were pure and beautiful and I believe it reflected what was in his heart.
Another memory I have of him is his desire to nestle into whoever was holding him. He was tender and full of warmth. I remember holding him in the recliner and feeling like life was better with him in my arms. He had the ability to make you feel safe and whole. It's mysterious that a child could make a grown man feel that way but I did. I felt as though I was holding my own son because of how he comforted my heart.
He was also curious. At times he would look at me and it seemed like he was studying and trying to make a connection on how I fit into his life. I remember going to the mexican restaurant with you and having his carrier set right next to me. I would glance over at him and catch him sizing me up. He truly attempted to understand what was surrounding him.
The memory of his smile comes to mind as well. The way his cheeks would indent, revealing his beautiful dimples, would melt anyone's heart. I felt so good when he laughed. I got such joy out of his expressions. Not only would he be able to tell a joke but could take one as well. I would have loved to have seen his humor come out as he grew up. I envision him being one of the boys and being around his uncles and daddy and being able to hold his own.
Even though I barely held him and had little time with him, I feel attached to him in a special way. With all the changes that Molly and I are contemplating and praying about, I believe the most important are the ones that draw us closer together. Luke's life and death is one of those events. It bonded mine and my wife's heart. Our hearts are broken and the events continue to disturb our faith but all we are left with is the decision to trust. I don't understand God's timing or will, I will never attempt to explain Luke's short life. I do, however, value the life he lived and place a great deal of significance on the time I had with him.
I hope the knowledge of Luke's impact on our lives brings some comfort to your hearts. His memory will live on and will be cherished forever. We love you all so much and pray for you always. You are always in our hearts and on our minds.
Jack and Molly
Celebration of the Life of Luke Sponberg
August 21, 2008
I am thankful that God blessed this world with Luke’s presence even though it was for such a short time. It still amazes me how such a little person can instantly steal such a big part of another’s heart.
I am thankful for the family Luke was so blessed to be born into. His Mommy and Daddy loved him completely, unconditionally – nurturing him and meeting his every need. His big sister adored him (even though she did swipe his pacis and cover his face with a blanket a few times), always showering him with hugs and kisses, always checking to see where he was and greeting him with a sweet, “Hi, Lukey!” His grandparents were doting, his aunts and uncles proud, his cousins ever eager to hold him and love on him.
I am thankful for the circumstances God used to lead my father into retirement, before Luke was even conceived, making it possible for Mom and Dad to be present for Luke’s birth and to spend all but two weeks of his life getting to know him. Such precious memories they will forever treasure.
I am thankful for the time my family and I spent with Luke when he was just 4 weeks old. Time spent holding him, whispering in his ear, playing with him, watching him sleep, breathing in that sweet “new baby” smell. I’ll never forget the first time I saw him. We had just arrived at the Chattanooga airport. Mom and Dad, Greg, Nicol, Summer and Luke came to pick us up. Greg was holding Luke who was sound asleep. Nicol had dressed him in an outfit I had bought for him – stripes of chocolate brown and different shades of blue. I remember thinking how beautiful those colors were on him. After hugging little Miss Summer, I eagerly took that sleeping baby boy out of my brother’s arms and put him to my shoulder. He immediately curled up in a little ball and snuggled down with his little bottom sticking out. I could have held him forever.
I am thankful for his beautiful blue eyes. Eyes so deep. Looking into them was like peering over the side of a boat into deep ocean waters – compelling, luring, inviting you to fall in. Pensive, engaging windows into his soul, his thoughts, his feelings.
I am thankful that Luke got to play in his big Tonka truck and wear a coonskin cap.
I am thankful he played in the grass and swung on a swing and went for walks and watched his big sister open her birthday presents and heard his Mommy sing and his Daddy pray over him.
I am thankful for the many family resemblances he bore but that he was definitely his Daddy’s boy – a miniature Gregory in so many ways.
I am thankful for the pictures of Luke that are now some of my most treasured possessions. I am thankful for Luke’s life for it has forever changed us all.
I am thankful for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who is the ONLY reason we can both grieve and celebrate Luke’s life today. We have hope.
I am thankful that when we feel like we are drowning and have sunk into the miry depths where there is no foothold (Ps 69) the Lord hears our cries, lifts us up out of the mud and mire, sets our feet on a rock and puts a new song in our mouths (Ps 40).
In his book Letters to My Son – A Journey Through Grief, Mitch Carmody writes, “I learned that there is life after death on both sides of the equation – when faith is the common denominator. We substantiate our lost loved one’s life by the way we live ours.” By God’s grace, may we strive to bring substance to Lukey’s life by living our lives in such a way that many will see and put their trust in the Lord (Ps 40).
Gregory Luke. Watchful, vigilant, bringer of light. He continues to live up to his name.
August 21, 2008
He gives me new strength. He guides me in the right paths for the honor of his name. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid. You are with me. Your shepherd’s rod and staff comfort me.
Turn to me and show me your favor. I am lonely and hurting. The troubles of my heart have increased. Set me free from my great pain. Look at how I’m hurting! See how much I suffer!
Godly people cry out, and the Lord hears them. He saves them from all of their troubles. The Lord is close to those whose hearts have been broken. He saves those whose spirits have been crushed. Anyone who does what is right may have many troubles. But the Lord saves him from all of them.
But the Lord takes good care of those who do what is right. Every day the Lord watches over those who are without blame. What he has given them will last forever. When trouble comes to them, they will have what they need.
The Lord saves those who do what is right. He is their place of safety when trouble comes. The Lord helps them and saves them.