Being an angel mom is a struggle and with that comes constant heartache. But there are two days of the year that for most of us, are just nearly impossible to survive. The day they entered this world, and the day they left it. Reliving our angels’ birthday and angelversary each year can become so intensely painful that we thought it would be appropriate to share some ways and ideas to help cope.
Hayden’s birthday is March 12th. The first birthday I celebrated without him was nothing short of a disaster. I think its safe to say I cried all day long. I found it hard to get out of bed, could barely form sentences when spoken to, and pretty much just wanted to go in a corner and hide until it was over. His first birthday it poured all day long. Seemed fitting for the mood I was in. My fellow heart mama friend started an event on Facebook a few weeks prior asking everyone to join the event and blow bubbles up to Hayden in Heaven. I honestly cannot remember how many people joined in but I do recall the only time I smiled through my tears that day was when Jackson and I were looking through the event page that night enjoying everyone’s photos they had posted of them blowing bubbles to our sweet angel. At about 5:30 that evening, the clouds cleared and it stopped raining. Hayden was born at 5:32 and the irony of the timing does not fall short on me.
We blew our bubbles, released heart balloons with birthday messages in them, then came inside and sang to him and had cake for him. It was private and intimate- just the three of us.
His second birthday we celebrated almost identical to his first. Lots of tears and bubbles, and again so much love and support from those who loved him. It wasn’t until his most recent birthday when he would have turned three that it hit me- I bet Hayden, being the smiley joyful baby he was, wouldn’t want his mommy to be crying through his entire birthday. Hayden has an older brother, Jackson, and at the time just one younger one as well (he now has two younger brothers). Hudson, his younger brother, never got the chance to meet Hayden. I started thinking about how I didn’t want Hayden’s birthday to be sad for them. I wanted his birthday to be celebrated by his brothers and with his brothers. As hard as that day is for me, it just didn’t seem fair to them as kids to not celebrate their brothers’ birthday in a fun child-like way. So, the day before Hayden turned three, we packed up the car and made a trip to The Great Wolf Lodge. It is one of Jackson’s favorite places on the planet and the joy he has in his eyes when he is there was just something I knew we needed to witness on Hayden’s birthday. The entire time we were there I kept picturing what Hayden would be like there. How much fun he would have. How much fun the three of them together would have. And I cried- and the morning was rough- but I smiled and laughed so much more. The joy in their eyes was just what my heart needed that day. Jackson fully understood why we were there- to celebrate Hayden’s birthday and have a party for him at the water park. Hudson had no clue- but someday he will. He and his new brother Greyson will grow up learning all about Hayden- Jackson, Rob and I will make sure of that. Together we will continue this tradition of celebrating his birthday at The Great Wolf Lodge. I know in my mind I will forever picture one more red head in that bunch- and that will always bring tears to my eyes that he will never be physically there with them, but I am certain he is always with them – not just at the water park for his birthday, but every single day of their lives.
We made it home that evening to do his bubbles and balloons at the cemetery, and had candles and cake after dinner. As his mother, his birthday will always be a struggle. Not having him here to see him blow out his candles and eat his cake, but instead visiting a cemetery releasing balloons with his three brothers just isn’t the way it should be. However, as grieving families we unfortunately have no other choice then to find a way to survive these milestones and for me, celebrating the day with his brothers has definitely helped it become just a little more bearable.