Chapters of Grief – Birthdays after Loss
My birthday will always be shared in a way with my son, Austin, who we lost in 2008. And that’s why it’s bittersweet.
You see, my birthday (Jan 8) is six months from his birthday, July 8. As such, he deemed this day his “Happy 1/2 birthday” years ago and it stuck. It was a running joke every year. Never mind it was my day, or that his younger brother’s was a mere 11 days away, it was the kickoff to his birthday. Gladly, I’ll share this day with him, I just wish he could be here to celebrate with me.
Instead, I try very hard to live in the now….to celebrate TODAY’S joys.
To be grateful for the surprise breakfast, cooked by my hubby,
who breaks out the skillet only about once or twice a year.
For a wacky “Happy B-day” song belted out by the kids before we left for school.
Cards and well wishes from family and friends.
Special gifts from my momma.
Red velvet cake.
Anticipated goodies and annual dinners to come later this week.
But it’s hard to not think of Austin on my birthday. To not wish, for a moment, to have him here with me. And so I’m celebrating with him in the only way I know how. By giving back.
My son was known for helping others. It was his legacy. What most didn’t know about him was his great love of books, something else he shared with his momma.
While he was still in my belly, I began reading to him. Sitting in his nursery to be, I’d gently rock and read dreaming of holding him in that room. After he was born, we spent family time in the bed each morning, and it included reading a book. As he grew older, our nightly ritual contained a bedtime story.
I still recall Austin’s proud face the first time he read a book to me on his own. As a young child, we’d increase the size of the books with his age. He loved big chapter books because it meant more one-on-one time with mom. And I remember fondly as he grew into a teen and we began to share and recommend books to each other. I loved discussing books with him, listening to them on tape in the car, and quietly reading next to him on the couch.
It’s no surprise that he had a large collection of books. He’d saved every book he’d ever owned since birth. After he passed away, and we transitioned his room for our niece, I stacked most of those books into totes for storage.
Something whispered to me when cleaning over Christmas break that it was time to find those books new homes. Austin would want them to be shared, not stored.
And so that’s how I’ll spend my birthday. Donating over 100 of his books, from chunky wooden toddler stories to thick, dog-eared novels to various spots in our community. Each one being given with love – and a big Austin hug from Heaven.
Happy 1/2 Birthday, sweet boy.