Happy Birthday, Joshua

Typically my body starts to remember, at the first signs of spring. If I didn’t have a calendar or pictures or anything else, as soon as the weather starts warming up and the birds start tweeting a little more, my body remembers. It remembers the anticipation of my third child’s birth. It remembers the trauma and fear of his life and death. It remembers the pain. I typically start dreading my son’s birthday, because he’s not here to celebrate it. This year, leading up to his birthday, I felt it was getting better. I wasn’t dreading it as much. Then the actual day came. This year he would be turning six. I think a lot about how he was only twenty months apart from his big brother. How close in age they would have been. It’s easy to think about all I’m missing on Joshua’s birthday. So what’s the point in digging through his special box of memories or looking through his pictures again? I have a box with special letters we received from our friends and family and Joshua’s doctors and nurses. I still have his onsies and his bottle, his footprints. In that box is this strange mix of memories and all the hope we held for his little life.

So why do I dig up these memories? Am I a glutton for making myself cry? No. It’s because I still want him. I still want to feel him and sometimes I force myself to go through the pain to feel close to him again. I won’t stop acknowledging his birthday because my son’s life is worth celebrating. I’m not in denial that my son isn’t here to blow out his candles or eat the cake or special dessert we have on his birthday. It’s just a day to remember him. To celebrate what he brought to our lives. Joshua’s life will never stop being worthy of being remembered or celebrated. It’s easy, even six years later to let the pain overwhelm the joy that he brought.

One of my friends, who also has a child in heaven, told me to try to remember and focus on the joy I felt seeing him for the first time. I loved that. I want to celebrate the joy. The first time I saw him, I felt the same unconditional love I felt for my other two children. It overwhelmed my soul. It’s like nothing I’d experienced before having children. I felt relief. He was finally here. So many appointments and talk about what conditions he may or may not have. Now he was in the flesh, and….he was perfect. Oh not in the worldly sense. He didn’t have ten fingers and ten toes. But he was beautiful. He was mine. I had peace that day and night. I didn’t have any clue what the next two and a half months would hold, but I didn’t need to know then. That day I think God allowed me to just be, and for Joshua to just be. That day, I found Joshua’s life verse, a verse I cling to just as much now as I did that day, not knowing what the future would hold for him. Joshua 1:9

So on this day, as much as I want to focus on how much I wish Joshua was still here and how much I wish things could have been different, I’m going to try to focus on the joy I felt on his birthday six years ago. Josh, I wish I could be with you now. I wish I could have just a sliver of what you are experiencing now in the nearness of our Savior. I just want you to know, your family, we miss you so much. Save a spot for me next to you. I only hope to live my life with the same fighting spirit you had. You amazed me and still do. I love you so much. I’ll see you soon ok? Happy birthday.


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