Happy Heavenly Birthday to my dearest Nathaniel.
17 years ago, I held you in my arms for the very first time. I will never forget the overwhelming feeling of love and excitement and fear. There you were, this perfect and tiny little face, eyes wide open, staring back at me. I remember telling you “I’m your mommy, and I love you. Thank you for being born”. Saying those words, “I’m your mommy” -at that moment, I had no idea what those 3 words would come to mean. I knew the basic meaning of being a mother. I knew I had the privilege to love you, teach you, guide you and protect you. Every step of the way, I was learning too.
The first 5 years of your life were perfect. It was everything I expected it to be. You were such a smart boy with your very own boisterous personality. You had a mind of your own. You were independent, and could occupy yourself for hours with your cars and trains. And quite frankly, you were the cutest little guy I’d ever met in my life! I would watch you and wonder who you would become. I still ask that question regularly, and sadly will never know the answer. Why your life was chosen to be cut short, I will never understand. There are days I allow myself to go down the rabbit hole of the unknown: What would you look like now? What would your hobbies be? What would you be like with your brothers at this age? You would be driving age. What kind of car would you be driving? Who would your friends be? The list of questions is never ending. It’s constant torture with each passing year to realize all of the missed milestones and memories we will never be able to create together. Every birthday, family celebration, and every vacation we have without you is painful. No matter what, there is always going to be a very vital missing piece to our family without you here, and we all feel it. We may not always talk about it, but we all know it’s there.
I tend to get through most days appearing unscathed, but the reality is, every day bears its scars. Every day carries pain and hurt and anger. I try to find peace in my heart believing that you are in Heaven with the most wonderful mother in the world – your grandma. In my heart, I tell myself, she wasn’t here to meet you in this world like grandpa was, so now I hope you two have a special bond in Heaven. You have many grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, so I tell myself you are not alone, and that makes my heart feel better.
I watch your brothers meandering through this life knowing they do not have you to follow. I know losing their big brother at such a young age is a loss I cannot begin to understand. I often wonder, do you keep an eye on them and visit them in their dreams even if they do not remember. When you are grieving, you tend to think of so many scenarios of how your loved one is still a part of this world. While we may never truly know the answer, I feel you are here with us when it matters most. There are some days you must know how much I need you, and I see signs that you are there. That remains between us.
I want you to know Nathaniel, that today is a very heartbreaking day for us, but it’s also a beautiful day. You entered this world and our lives for a reason. You were meant for greater things with a greater purpose. I thank God for allowing you to be born to bless our lives, and still question why he took you away from us so quickly, but trying to understand that may take the rest of my life. I often question my abilities as a mother, and whether I made all of the right decisions for you along this journey. It makes me feel like a failure that I wasn’t able to protect you the way a parent is supposed to, knowing cancer is vicious. I hope in your short little life, you felt my love for you every day, and still feel it beyond this world.
Giving you birth changed everything about who I was, who I am and who I will be, as did losing you. On your birthday, I just want you to know how much we all miss you and love you. Lastly, thank you for being born! For everyone reading, please join me in wishing my son Nathaniel a Happy 17th Birthday in Heaven.