To Ty, on your ninth birthday...
All day I’ve wondered what you would look like at 9 years old. How your voice would sound. All day I have had a weight on my chest greater than most. I went through the motions like a zombie.
I slept poorly last night. Every time I woke up throughout the night, I knew it was your birthday and begged to dream of you. Instead I’m not sure if I really slept or dreamt at all. I heard Gavin’s giant footsteps early in the morning, and my first thought was how big he is, and how you would be even bigger if you were still here. What size shoe would you wear, I wonder?
The day before, I received a package via priority mail. It was a wrapped gift just for you – so I placed it next to your picture. Gavin has been dying to open it, so it was the first thing he asked to do this morning. It was one of the most special gifts we have ever received – a 3-year sobriety coin that Nadine says you helped her achieve after 30 years of addiction. Thank you for giving her the strength to face those demons, you are a true guardian angel and you saved her life. I couldn’t be more proud, and I will cherish your gift forever.
I often imagine two lives other than the one I’m living. In the first life, you never got sick. You are strong and athletic, tall and handsome. You and Gavin are inseparable, and your little baby brother wouldn’t be nine years younger than you – because cancer wouldn’t have interrupted our lives. In the second life, you survived your cancer, but not without the horrific side effects you suffered. You’re in a wheelchair, I would still puree your meals for your belly tube, and I wonder if I could still carry you in my arms. There would be no baby brother at all, because I would be too consumed with your care (and I wouldn’t trade that for the world. There is nothing on earth I would rather do than take care of you).
Did you see me crying this morning? I hope it didn’t make you sad. I need to feel sad like that sometimes – it helps me feel closer to you. After your brother got on the bus, I rushed home and collapsed into the couch with loud, ugly tears. I cried for an eternity until I felt like a balloon – every last bit of me swollen and stretched – somehow I fell asleep on the couch. Grief is exhausting.
I woke up soon after with a jolt, and knew I had to get out of our sad house right away. Ironically, the weight of the day made it impossible to move any faster than a snail’s pace. I showered forever, I made the bed, I moped and moaned as I picked up around the house. On my way to the office Daddy called. We decided to meet up for lunch, and that probably saved me for some of the day. We love each other so much, and he is the only one I need when I’m missing you.
I felt you with me every minute of this day yet I couldn't find an ounce of happiness no matter how hard I tried. I bought blue rock candy after lunch, and later I decided to go to Hannafords (Heiny-Farts) to get your favorite things for dinner. I heard your voice directing me the entire time, so I bought a pear (even though I haven’t eaten one in years), filet mignon, ditalini noodles, Locatelli cheese, bacon, and beer for daddy. Daddy called Ria (the Bakeria in Pawling) and asked her to make a blue velvet cake for you, and the girls at the bank made sure it was properly decorated with blue lollipops. How incredibly special it was. I couldn't even sing "Happy Birthday" through my tears, but Gavin and Daddy did a good job. Gavin made a wish, and he told me he felt like you heard his wish and you helped him to blow out the candle.
It was a foggy, heavy day, with countless teary-eyed outbursts of sadness throughout. To tell you the truth, I need days like this, to just focus on you and all we’ve been through. Every single day used to be like this… so I’m proud of how far I’ve come and how much I’ve learned to live with gratitude, despite it all. I am so grateful for you, Ty. For the chance I had to be your mommy. For everything you taught me and continue to teach me.
Baby boy, I hope your birthday today was filled with heavenly fun - running, jumping, flying and laughing. I miss you so. I will see you again.