There’s an old, ratty green towel that has hung in my bathroom for years that belonged to my daughter Heather. She kept it here for all those times that she would “run away” to my house, just so she had her favorite towel.
Over the years, it just hung on the towel rack and now, even though in my heart I know that she’s not coming back for it, for me, it’s my warm hug from her when I wrap myself in it. It’s my smile from her and her daughter, and it’s her unconditional love for her friends and family that were so blessed to have her-yes, have her- in our lives because even though I can no longer text her a hundred times a day, or laugh with her, and yep, argue with her, and know that she would drop anything in an instant for any one of us, she will forever live on in all of our hearts, and I can feel her all around me each and every moment, of every single day. So today on her birthday, like every day, it’s not a day for sadness but for celebration; for celebrating her life and how she changed the world and how she impacted so many lives.
I learned that, with grief, you have to take it one day at a time and learn how to find the happiness amid the heartbreak. None of us are immune to grief, and everyone who has suffered loss understands that grief changes, but you never wake up one morning and you’ve moved on. It stays with you, and, you know, you ebb and flow. I learned that, with grief, you have to take it one day at a time and learn how to find the happiness amid the heartbreak.
And so for today, instead of mourning her loss , I choose to celebrate the life my daughter lived, the profound impact she made on the world and each and every life that she touched and an unparalleled spirit of determination to accomplish great and wonderful things and to give us her self to others in the face of insurmountable odds because of me and she showed us all how to get it done.
To the girl that was so determined to do it her way- Who loved the Oakland A’s, Raiders, Warriors, NASCAR, great big trucks, Mickey Mouse pancakes but most importantly her family unconditionally- today is a day of celebration as we continue your legacy in touching lives in making a difference.
Life is such a gift with so many blessings each and every day – They are there for you if you just take the time to see. Happy Birthday to my firstborn
My Dearest Heather,
Today is your birthday and on this special day, because even though I am not sure if you can read this from whichever shining star you are in the universe right now, I am writing to you once again, I have done for years on your birthday. You were born 42 years ago today and I can remember that day as if it were yesterday. Which is pretty amazing as nowadays I sometimes can’t remember what happened an hour ago.
I was very young, too young to be a mother really, when you came into this world screaming at the top of your lungs but a mommy was the only thing in this universe that I ever wanted to be and you made all my dreams come true. Starting life 3 weeks late, (the theory goes you were doing your hair and your makeup), we learned how to get through life together. You survived me putting the diapers on you backward for the first week, being dressed in head to toe pink and still being called a boy and all the trials and tribulations that go along with being a first-time mom, and being the oldest child.
Even though I was not quite as prepared as in my mind I imagined myself to be, we managed to muddle through together somehow and by the grace of God, you grew into the incredible, determined, beautiful woman with the deepest compassion for others that you were throughout your life. You were my hope my dreams, and my proof of how wonderful life can be and always will you and taught me how to live life and inspired me each and every day how life should be lived.
I have tried and failed no less than a dozen times this week to write down how I feel about you my daughter. This is what I finally have to say:
Today is your birthday and of course, I am in shock at how fast the time has gone and there are those moments where I hurt so bad I don’t know how to go on without you, but then I see something that reminds me of you, of your infectious laughter and I know that you are still here with all of us.
You grew up to be a wonderful young lady and I cherish each moment I got to spend time with you and be your Mommy. Birthdays of your children also push you into a state of reflection because right after you see how much time has gone by and how quickly it evaporated-you began to question the results of your parenting and evaluate how you can do better.
It is hard to describe how much you love someone when you first look at them. Now it’s hard to describe how I feel about you growing up so quickly.
Every child’s birthday causes parents to pause and remember. I’m certainly no different. I can still clearly remember the day you came into this world.
You’ll always be my first-born baby!
When your first-born comes along you wonder how you could ever love anything as much as you do her but when the 2nd comes along you get it. You fall in love all over again.
I can’t adequately express to you how very grateful I am for your birth and your life.
God sent me a gift once. A gift, that filled my existence with love, joy, and happiness. That gift was everything. That gift was you and even though you are hanging out now in the heavens above, you are still so much a part of all of our hearts and changed the world for good.
So many times as parents, we make the mistake of pushing our children into an assumed state and hope that they assume we love them because of the things we do, the things we allow, and the things we buy. Today, I did not want YOU to assume-I want you to know just how much I love you and how much you mean to me even if this year, unlike the rest of the years, this letter may be more for me than for you but I have a feeling that knowing you as I do, you’ll somehow see this and know.
I still wish for you the stars. I wish for you everything and then add to that infinity. I wish great love for you, wherever you find it. I wish that your dreams, whatever they may be, come true and if they don’t, that you make them happen. I wish for you all of the beauty of the world, but the sadness too, because sadness makes you stronger and sadness makes the happy moments seem even more joyful.
You have made the darkness in my heart light up brighter than I ever thought possible. You gave me a reason to live and try each and every day. I cannot thank our Lord enough for blessing me with you. And as blessings come, so do disappointments.
There are trials and rewards throughout everyone’s life. You have helped me through the most difficult times of my life and even though you are not here this year, I hope you are having the biggest, bestest party ever with your brother and your grandparents all who adored you and you were the light of their lives, just as you are the light of ours.
Years have passed and you grew and became the most remarkable woman I have ever known. A very forgiving and gracious woman with a fierce determination to make a difference and you did all of that, and so much more. You were the one person that knew me. You knew my weaknesses. Yet you loved me. deeply. Today you are free from the pain and can celebrate in the way your life was meant to be celebrated and while we are all missing you, we know you are here with us all.
Above all, I want you to know how much Mommy loves you with all of my heart and misses you each and every day! “I’ll love your forever, I’ll love you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.”
I love you,