Happy birthday in Heaven, my loved and cherished son. I like to think you are having a birthday filled with more joy than I can imagine, celebrating with our Heavenly Father, all of your family who is there, and the other angel babies whose moms I am blessed to call friends here on Earth. As much as I want to be the one throwing you a birthday party and watching you try your first birthday cake, I know you are in even more capable hands than mine!
Because I’m still down here, where sorrow does still live, your birthday isn’t purely a “happy” one for me. Lately there has been a lot of time spent re-living the events surrounding your birth, wondering how a year has possibly gone by, and imagining how different life and your special day would look and feel if you were here with us. I remember so clearly the immense love I felt when the nurse placed you in my arms for the first and only time. Never have I looked at another human being and seen such perfection or felt so connected on the deepest level possible. You are part of me and I am part of you, and that doesn’t change. I was, and am, so proud of you. You grew so perfectly in my womb and fought so hard when they pulled you out so suddenly. The awe I felt the first time I laid eyes and hands on you will never fade.
I cannot believe it has been a year. I used to worry that my memories of you would dull as time passed, and I’m thankful to recognize that, after a year, that hasn’t happened. It feels like yesterday that labor started and I was more excited to meet you than I have been for anything in my life. It feels like yesterday that I held you in my arms, the joy of saying hello being all too soon replaced by the pain of saying goodbye. It feels like hardly any time at all since we took the most difficult car ride of our lives – the one from the hospital to our home without a baby in the backseat. It feels like all that just happened and yet so much has changed.
I may not be able to spoil you with birthday gifts this year, or any year, but you have given me the most incredible gifts, Jacob. You have given me the gift of living day to day, even minute to minute at times, and appreciating the most beautiful moments life has to offer after having lived through some of the darkest. You have gifted me with the ability to slow down, to notice little things, and to take better care of myself and those around me. You have freed me from so many of my fears: fears of what other people think, fears of not being “successful,” fears of not being good enough, and replaced them with love and caring. Love for our God and a relationship with Him that has grown deeper than ever. Love for you, and for the little sister I’m convinced you and our loving God handpicked for us. Love for family and friends who have shown us what compassion and support truly mean. Love for time with those same people, which can no longer be taken for granted. And caring for others who have experienced similar losses and tragedies. I cannot, will not, say that I am a better person for having lost you. I would trade all of these things to have you in my arms. But I am unequivocally a better person for having loved you and I have a feeling you would have found a way to teach me these things if you had stayed with me physically as well.
Yes there is sorrow on your birthday for me. Sorrow that I’m not watching you crawl, or maybe even try to walk, around a party filled with people who love you. Sadness that your cake was sliced up perfectly instead of smashed. And tears over all the changes and growth I never got to watch you have over these last 12 months. But I am doing my best to let love outshine the sorrow. There may not be a party, but we are loving and honoring you this birthday with balloons and cake. We are visiting your gravesite, spending time with the butterflies at the Franklin Park Conservatory, and your daddy is even getting a tattoo in your memory! We are thinking of you constantly, and also keeping a watchful eye over your little sister, who we hope to have join us before you turn 13 months. We are doing our best even though having to celebrate your birthday without you here is our worst nightmare.
I love you Jacob, and so do your daddy, the rest of your family, and so many others. We are comforted knowing that the sorrow surrounding this day ends with us, and that you are celebrating in a place more wonderful and joy-filled than we can comprehend. While we remain incomplete every day we are on this earth without you, we know you are healthy, whole, and complete in Jesus’ arms and for that we are eternally grateful. So happy birthday, dear son. I love you more than I ever knew possible and I live for the day when we meet again.