This past Saturday marked 10 years since I first became a mom. On that beautiful day my twins, Wyatt & Olivia, entered this world and my life changed forever. It’s really amazing to think how much all of our lives have changed since then.
Ten years ago was a scary day in many ways. I had developed preeclampsia and had gotten incredibly sick. I was life-flighted a few days earlier to Denver in the hopes that with treatment my body could hang on just a little bit longer so I could get closer to my April due date. But on the morning of February 19, 2012 I woke up feeling like someone had put a pile of bricks on my chest. My doctor ordered an X-ray to take a look at my chest. It turned out that I had developed pulmonary edema and just like that I was whisked away to an emergency c-section and told that would be the day my twins would be born.
Now 10 years later it is hard to believe how much life has changed. Olivia fought a big battle with brain cancer and would only celebrate one birthday on earth with her family before God called her home. Wyatt continues to fight a battle with diabetes, but is still living a healthy and happy life with his family.
Their birthday is now a really bittersweet day for me each year. It is so sweet because I still have a wonderful 10 year old boy to celebrate. It is bitter because I am always missing my little girl.
On this bittersweet day I have struggled to find a balance between the grief that fills my heart on that day and the joy I have in my little boy. For many years we would have a special cake for Olivia at our birthday parties and a balloon to represent her. Other years we’ve made the party all about Wyatt and just taken time to remember Olivia at home as a family.
This year though Wyatt wanted to do something a little different. He asked if we could have special pancakes in the morning with an “O” drawn on each one with chocolate syrup. And so that’s exactly what we did! But then the rest of the day was all about celebrating our sweet Wyatt. He chose a dinner destination for our family, selected the perfect lego set from Target, and excitedly planned his birthday party for a few days later. It was really wonderful to see him find some real joy in his birthday.
It’s heartbreaking to think that just as February 19th is bittersweet for me each year, it is equally as bittersweet for Wyatt. He is always missing his sister and at times in his young life has struggled to really celebrate his own birthday because of the grief he feels. This year my husband and I were determined more than ever to make sure Wyatt felt celebrated, joyful and completely happy on his birthday. We always want him to know just how much we celebrate the wonderful young man he is becoming!
I don't believe there is a one-size-fits-all for celebrating birthdays after a child passes away. If Olivia hadn’t been a twin I imagine I would celebrate her birthday completely differently. However, that day is just as much Wyatt’s birthday as it is hers and I never want him to grow up thinking that he isn’t worth celebrating!
Do you have a special tradition in your family to celebrate the birthday of a child or other loved one who is no longer with you? I would love to hear about it! You can comment on this post or email email@example.com.
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