Today marks the second anniversary of the day you became an angel – June 4, 2009. I can’t believe that two years have passed since your daddy and I last held you and kissed you. 24 months. 104 weeks. 730 days. 17,520 hours. 1,051,200 minutes. 63,072,000 seconds. We miss you as much as today we did the first second after you left us to find your place in heaven.
Since you’ve earned your angel’s wings, so much has changed for our little family. We have made good friends who we have come to cherish, but who only know you from pictures and stories. We now live in a new house in a different neighborhood from the home we shared with you. We have introduced your sister Lucy to the world and also have celebrated the births of our friends’ children. But no matter where we are or how much time stands between us, we wish you were still here.
Andy, you will never be forgotten. You cannot be replaced. You always will be our firstborn son. Our beautiful, blue-eyed boy. Our munchkin. Our little man. Our hopes and dreams personified.
Your daddy and I smile at the memories of the wide-eyed delight we felt on the day that we first learned we were expecting you. Of how we picked out the perfect name for you – Andrew Glenn – when we discovered that you were a boy, knowing your nickname would be Andy. Of the incredible pride and amazement we felt at 11:52 a.m. on January 8, 2009 – the exact moment you were born. Of the way you snuggled against your daddy the first time he held you, instinctively knowing that he would protect you. Of the trusting way you looked at me the first time I took you in my arms.
There is no way to break our bonds or to place conditions on the love that we feel for you. SMA may have taken you from this earth, but our spirits remain connected. The sound of your soft cry echoes in our minds. The ghost of you lingers in our arms. We remember and cherish every detail of you, from the curl on the top of your head to your chubby little feet.
As the days since we lost you have turned to years, we have come to accept that we were only meant to have you with us for a brief shining moment, instead of the lifetime we wanted. We have stopped questioning the decisions we made for your care and have let go of the guilt – believing that we followed your lead in making these hard choices. You trusted us to take care of you, and we did the best we could to fill each day of your life with joy.
But we also cannot forget the disbelief we felt at your diagnosis, the months of sleepless worry, and the devastation of your loss. How we were so unprepared to let you go on that anxious, tear-filled Thursday two years ago in the hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit. How your daddy lunged for the suction catheter as you took your last breath, hoping he could save you from death. How I held you one last time, silently praying that your heart would begin to beat again. How we cried over your body at the funeral home, knowing your soul was free to dance with the angels, but hating to feel your skin so hard and cold. How numb we felt on the day we buried you, because we could not fathom a future for us if you were not in it. We could not bear – or believe in – the finality of “ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”
Without the solidness of your presence, our lives were blurred. It took a long time – and some help from you from above – to regain our focus and to allow ourselves to take the next step. Only then could we understand that there were critical lessons for our family in the totality of our experience. That the good memories we have are that much sweeter for knowing the depths of the bad. And, that by sending your sister to us from heaven, you have allowed us to rediscover you through her and to find happiness once more. While very different, Lucy still reminds us so much of you.
But we are not perfect. There are dark days when we are drawn back into the depths of anguish. Overwhelmed and broken, we have lashed out at each other instead providing the comfort we need. I have been short-tempered with your sister, impatient with your daddy, and frustrated with family and friends, all because of my inability to cope. I’m disappointed in myself at these moments. It’s just that, sometimes, I feel like I am drowning in the swirling sea of my emotions, and no one but you can reach me. That no one else understands the constant pull of the unseen cord tying me to you.
Then I think of the courageous way you lived your life, and I push through the pain and my selfishness to again follow your example. Both your daddy and I remember how tirelessly you fought to live and know that we must continue the fight to make you proud. As we move forward into the unknown, we look to you for guidance, and you continue to lead the way. Time and again, in life and in death, you have amazed us with the power of your enduring spirit.
From heaven above, you hear us call to you, and you always answer. You give us peace and purpose. You speak to us now in signs – a song on the radio, a tiny sock in the laundry, the dragonflies that flutter around us, a whisper in the wind. You have made sure that we know you are only a heartbeat away from us and that knowledge has helped us heal.
You never lived in our new house, yet we feel your presence throughout it. Your pictures hang in every room, snapshots of our family as we were then and of you alone. Small precious moments of wonder captured forever. Your sister smiles at these pictures, babbles to them, and gives them kisses. She remembers you from heaven, just as we remember your journey here with us on earth.
But your impact extends far beyond our little family. Your legacy is far-reaching and awe-inspiring. Over the past two years, your story has made its way to almost every continent. From featuring your picture on the Jumbotron at a baseball game in Philadelphia to writing your name on a rock on the beach in Hawaii, people who never met you have honored your memory. Strangers reach out to us, having been moved by the tragedy of your loss. They tell us how they think of you whenever they see a dragonfly. And, today, they will keep us in their prayers.
To commemorate your angel day, we will gather around your grave and bring you flowers. We will be there at 5:05 p.m. – the exact moment you left this world. We will feel you in the warm caress of the spring breeze. We will see you in the brilliance of the sunset. We will hear you in your sister’s laugh.
Andy, while we believe you’re always with us, I hope that you’ll continue to remind us of just how close you really are. Please send another dragonfly to us today. Be an orb in a picture for Daddy – you know how he loves that. Allow me to glance at the clock and see :52 in the time. Visit Lucy in the playroom, but don’t wake her up at night. Instead, join me in my dreams. Most importantly, son, keep dancing freely throughout the heavens, and we will try to keep up with you here on earth.
Loving you forever and always,
I am not there
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the snow on the mountain’s rim,
I am the laughter in children’s eyes,
I am the sand at the water’s edge,
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle Autumn rain,
When you awaken in the morning’s hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush of quiet birds in circled flight,
I am the star that shines at night,
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I did not die.