Happy fourth birthday, my angel! I can’t believe it has been four years since the amazing day that you were born. The day that changed our lives forever. Your daddy and I smile at the memories of your birth – of the awestruck pride and wonder we felt that day. But, now your birthday is very bittersweet for us – we miss you so much. Of course, your little sister Lucy demanded that we celebrate your day in style so that is what we plan to do – she loves a party as much as you once did. Today, we will focus on the joy you brought to our family.
We’ll begin by visiting your garden with bubbles and a small present that Lucy picked out just for you. As always, we will release 20 balloons – one for each week you were in our arms – and hope that they will line the streets of heaven. I think you’ll especially like the wonderful fourth birthday balloon that Gigi found for you. After lunch, we’ll go to the bounce house place, because Lucy insisted that’s what you would want to do. She says that she wishes she could jump with you. Oh, Andy, how I wish that too.
Sometimes I dream of another life, one without disease and heartbreak. I dream of your little boy smell and the tousled curl of your hair. Of the lilt of your voice and the warm squeeze of your hand in mine. Of hearing you say, “I love you too, Mommy.” Of how this should have been the year you started pre-school. Of play dates with mud pies and other crazy messes that only a boy and his friends can make. Of all the milestones, so often taken for granted by others, that simply were not meant to be for us. But, I know that these dreams are selfish and that they are mine alone. You are in a place of pure beauty beyond these mortal fantasies.
And, I know that, even though we can no longer hold you in our arms, you are still here with us. Your presence surrounds us just like the breeze that will carry your birthday balloons and bubbles to the sky. You are the sound of Lucy’s laughter. You are the light behind your Daddy’s eyes. You are the strength in your little brother-to-be’s kicks as he grows in my belly. You are my soul. You are all that is good in this world. To you, it doesn’t matter that you never had the chance to celebrate your actual birthday here on earth. You’ve been with us all along.
So, we will end your birthday celebration today with candles and cupcakes. We’ll reminisce about your monthly birthday parties, and I’ll remember how you hated the frosting you tried when you were just four months old. Lucy will wear a party hat and make a mess in your honor. Your daddy and I will laugh through the tears, as you taught us to do. We will celebrate your life as fully and completely as we can.
Because, my beautiful boy, your life counts. You only lived for 140 days, but each was miraculous. You were taken from us way too soon, but your spirit endures. You will never be replaced. Your handprint is forever on our hearts. We may not be together in this physical world, but we are never far from you. We may grow as a family and move forward in this life, but you are never left behind.
You will always be our firstborn son. You are the child who made me a mother. You are the one who taught me what love truly is. The love that sustained me when all was lost and allowed me to climb from the darkness of grief. The love that gave me the strength to once again embrace what the future holds for our family. The love that brought your younger sister and brother into being. The love that has allowed my heart, little by little, to heal. Andy, your love is the greatest gift that I ever received.
I am passing your gift of love on to your little sister and little brother-to-be. I want them to know you as I do – an incredible boy who loved with his entire being and who watches over us from heaven. A boy who faced so many obstacles, but never stopped laughing. I want them to carry your spirit of hope in their hearts and to share it with the world as you did. I want them to look up to their big brother like any other younger sibling would. But, most importantly, I want you to know how proud I am of you – now and forever – and how lucky I am to be your mom.
I love you, Andy. Happy birthday, my darling boy.
Always and forever,