My Andrew's birthday was Monday. One whole year old...geez that went by so quickly. Even so, I feel like I've lived a hundred lives since last December. So much has happened. So much hasn't happened.
We began Andrew's birthday celebration on Friday morning with an early morning flight to Denver. Andrew's Mimi and Pop (aka my parents) and Andrew's Aunt Corinne and Uncle Kent sent us to Denver to get away from the everyday to celebrate his birthday. I was a bit nervous about not being in my comfort zone for this huge day, but it turned out to be the very thing we needed.
We went with really no plans other than to attend the Rowan Tree Foundation's annual candlelight remembrance event. The event was held on Saturday night and it was everything I could have hoped for. I was a little apprehensive about going...not sure why...just seemed kind of like the first day of kindergarten maybe. The ceremony was beautiful...celebratory. I am sad that we had to go...sad that my baby's name had to be on one of the beautiful ornaments hung on the luminaries that lit up the dark, cold night. But so very grateful that mommas like Corinne O'Flynn have events like this so we can feel connected to Andrew.
We had plans to celebrate Andrew's birthday with a nice, romantic dinner. But, the night before, we went to a quiet little restaurant and I instantly knew I couldn't spend his birthday in a somber place. I sat down at the table on the 5th and felt almost exactly like I did on December 16th last year. That night was very possibly the worst night of my life. And I've had some bad nights. We went to Huey's with Austin's family just after we had THE meeting with all of the doctors...the meeting where we issued the DNR and were told that Andrew would most likely die very soon. I wanted to burn Memphis to the ground that night. I remember this intense desire to claw my skin and pull my hair and scream as loud as I possibly could. So out of control...so sad and helpless. I got a good sniff of this feeling again on the 5th so I told Austin that I wanted to do something fun and active on Andrew's birthday. We spent the day in Golden, touring the Coors brewery and every bike shop in town. That night, we went to Dave & Buster's. Its kind of like a Chuck E Cheese's for adults. We ate bad bar food and played skee-ball until our arms hurt. We used to go to this arcade in the Oxford Mall when we first started dating to play skee-ball so it brought back very fond memories. We had more fun together than we've had in a long while. It felt like a place we would've brought Andrew one day. I kind of felt like he was there. I definitely felt like he was proud of us. I grabbed Austin hands before our dinner arrived and told him how proud I was of us. Proud that we've made it the year...proud that I still love him and he still loves me...proud that we are still standing and smiling. Proud to be our boy's strong parents.
The days following have been filled with so many "one year ago today" statements. One momma on a blog I read calls this "walking the weeks" of his life. I like that imagery. I've realized that the 13 days he lived were really so very short. I'm writing this the night of the 14th. (even though the post date says otherwise) One year ago today, we were wrapping things up in Tupelo...readying ourselves for the trip to LeBonheur. We thought we were going there for surgeries to be able to take him home. We found out on the 15th that there would be no surgeries, there would be no going home.
I miss my little boy. I will always miss my little boy. Even when there is another, there will never be him. This simple fact wrecks me. There is a song that I hear a lot in my car called "Jar of Hearts." I cry my eyes out every time I hear it...its got so much anger in it and it speaks to me for some reason. One line says "I've learned to live half alive." I think that's the trick of losing a child, learning to live again. It won't ever be full, complete, carefree, or really truly happy. But it can be a life. A life I still want to live even though he isn't here.
So happy birthday precious little light of my life. I hope this year, in what should be your second year of life, I can continue to dig my way out and make you proud. I hope I can take your little brother or sister to the candlelight next year. I'm so proud to be your momma...so proud your soul still burns in mine. You will never leave your momma's heart.