I stood there, staring at all of the items on the shelf directly at eye level, wondering what I would get you on your first birthday. None of the colourful packages “spoke” to me or felt worthy of a gift you give your son on his very first birthday. None of them were special enough, fun enough, playful enough – just not enough. Except of course, I didn’t have to worry about that – I would never have to make that decision. I would never have to buy you anything for your first birthday. The thought provided relief and sadness. Relief from the pressure of finding the perfect gift every mother wants to find for their child on their first birthday, first Christmas – first everything. Sadness from my reality of being relieved from that same pressure.
But after standing there staring blankly and numb at the first birthday gift candidates, I finally made a decision and picked up one that I thought would live up to my expectations. But not for you.
I’ve had to live out that scene twice already since loosing you. On two separate occasions; weeks apart, I’ve had to shop for presents for two special little boys in celebration of their first birthdays. I’ve attended two separate first birthday parties for each – a reminder, that both boys, would not only have been actively present in your life, but also consistent markers of your absence in my life. They will forever be reminders of what life could have been with you.
So what kind of gift does a mom like me get her son on his first birthday?
I always knew this day would come. The day that marks your first birthday. The day that marks the inception of the hole within my heart that my soul tends to every single day. And consciously or subconsciously, I knew that for you, on your first birthday, a gift would have to be different. It wouldn’t come packaged in a nice colourful box with a smiling poster baby on the outside. It wouldn’t come with neatly printed step by step instructions on how to put it together. It wouldn’t get wrapped up in bright birthday theme wrap with a twirly ribbon bow. It couldn’t.
Like my love for you, it had to be delivered in a different way. A way that would make you proud to be celebrating such a great milestone with us – worlds apart.
So for you my sweet Jude, I offer you on your first birthday the gift of a simple promise.
A promise that your existence will never be forgotten and lives beyond the borders of my heart. A promise that your name will be woven into everyday conversation. A promise that you will always hold your place in our family. A promise that my feet will walk for you. A promise that your life will never be measured in just 21 short weeks.
A promise that together, we will build a foundation of a legacy that will unravel and transform into something big – something that I couldn’t have imagined if it hadn’t been for you. Today, the base of the foundation exists in the simple form of a postcard. It started as a simple ask of keeping your memory alive, by showing you the world; but it has transformed into something beyond that. It has inspired, humbled, taught, comforted and reminded a community of people all around us to love deeply and live fully.
It’s not much, but it’s a start.
So today, on your very first birthday, I offer you this simple gift of a promise. A promise of my infinite love which is the spark for the fire, that together, we make burn brightly.
Happy 1st Birthday Jude.