In contrast to the 6th of September, I felt quite relieved to wake up this morning and have it be the 7th. Your day. Your most special day of the year. It's a day I spend so much time thinking about and planning for and today was absolutely perfect. With the exception of you not being here, of course.
I woke in the middle of the night, crept down the stairs with RyBear to read to you by the light of your candle, "On the Night You Were Born." At 1:05 am, the moment you were born, I sat quietly by your photo, snuggling your bear, and thought sweet thoughts of you and that first time I held you in my arms.
When morning came, and I got your brother to daycare for the morning, I busied myself with preparations for your day. I found 3 blue roses and arranged them by your photo. Just like the roses we got for your memorial. The ones we made wishes on and laid with you that day. I baked your birthday cake -- chocolate zucchini like I craved before we lost you. I finished our donations for the hospital, writing notes for the moms and dads who will one day receive them. I even managed to do a bit of fall gardening prep in your garden before your dad got home at lunch time. We had a little visit with your Gramma and Grampa, relaxed a bit, and then headed off for the rest of the day's celebrations.
Before we could do anything else, we of course, had to pick up your brother. Brayden was so attached to RyBear all day. Wanting him to sit next to him for photos, carrying him from one place to the next. It was sweet and I couldn't help but wish it was you, his big brother, he was so bonded to, and not "just" a stuffed bear. But to him, it's all he knows, and it warmed my heart all the same. As a family, we started at the cemetery.. A watermelon picnic and our annual reading of "Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You." There was no wind to fly your butterfly kite, but perhaps we'll try tomorrow. When it was time to leave, Brayden held my hand and walked with me to your stone. He said "Bye Bye" and put his hand solidly on your name. I smiled. He doesn't really get it yet, but I know that some day he will, and he'll miss you fiercely without ever having met you.
Our final family stop was to the hospital to deliver this year's gifts! 2 this time, and I felt so honoured that you could help two families in need this year. One bereavement box for another family who will someday leave the hospital without their baby in their arms, and a second smaller package for another family who will face the same heartache. We were able to create two gifts this year thanks to the generosity of other members of our local community and a special family member.
This year in the box we included: a teddy bear, a journal, a candle, an imprint kit, the book "Surviving My First Year of Childloss" (that my own essay was published in last year), and some specially donated gift cards for personalized items by local "makers" -- one piece of sonogram art, and a necklace or bracelet. The second gift was a framed piece of artwork hand-painted by your great-Aunt Tania, a journal, and two more donations of personalized items: a mommy necklace and daddy keychain. I'm so grateful to Chelsea Creates, Karamella Designs, and Stamped Memories by Amanda for their selflessness and thoughtful contributions.
As always, the way your life inspires others and helps families through the darkest of times takes my breath away. And this year was another year where you have reached so many people in so many beautiful ways. So again, I'd like to recap the incredible ways you've touched the lives of others since your last birthday.
Thank you to everyone who has spread love and kindness in Ryan's name this year. Thank you for saying his name, for including him in your lives, and for remembering him not just today, but always. It can't be said enough that one of a mother's greatest fears is that her baby will be forgotten, but I know too well that in my circles at least, that won't happen. He has too many incredible people loving on him to ever forget him.
Thank you for the phone calls, the texts, the messages full of his name and bright blue hearts and butterflies. Thank you for checking in on us. Thank you for sending cards. Thank you for addressing those cards to him. Thank you for visiting him at the cemetery. Thank you for visiting him in your hearts. Thank you for the public acknowledgements of his life. For loudly proclaiming your love for him, and for how much you miss him. Thank you for the balloon releases, the cupcakes, the writing his name wherever you may have written it. Thank you for spreading kindness in his name. Thank you for singing Happy Birthday, for blowing out candles. Thank you for talking to your kids about him and including them in your celebrations -- even if they're too young to remember him. For toasting him over a glass of wine. For saying his name out loud. Thank you for lighting candles. And thank you for all of the quiet ways you might have remembered him today.
Ryan, your third year has been another gift to us. Another year to see the good in people. The love that surrounds us always. It's a difficult thing to consider myself lucky to have you in my life -- because it's so not the way it should be. But it somehow is still true. I'm lucky to be your mom. You've taught me more in 3 years than some kids can teach their parents in a lifetime.
Keep shining your bright light on us and this whole beautiful world.
Happy birthday, baby.
You are loved.
You are loved.
You. Are. Loved.