HAPPY BIRTHDAY GABRIEL!
It's hard to believe it's been two years since Gabriel entered the world, and quickly left. We have all changed so much, I'm not sure I recognize the old me anymore. Gabriel did so many wonderful things for us and our friends/family in his 35 minutes, it's amazing to me the impact he's had on this world.
Leading up to his birthday was rough. I wasn't sure how I would be emotionally this year, and honestly there's a large part of me that thinks this year was worse and harder than last year. Perhaps I've realized all that I'm missing out on with him not being here. Perhaps as time goes on I miss him more and more since it's been so long since I've seen him, touched him.
When Gabriel was born, I kept saying that I wanted to serve Angel Food Cake on his birthday each year. Last year I didn't get to do it so I knew I had to do it this year. The day before his birthday I made Angel Food Cake Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream frosting. It was my first time making Angel Food Cake anything and I don't think they were too bad!
I worked Saturday night. I should have taken it off, but I didn't. I knew I would be working through his time of birth as well as his time of death. Work kept me fairly busy, but coincidentally 2:35am - 3:11am was fairly calm. I spent the entire time thinking of that time two years ago. The moment I held him, kissed him, and loved him. The moments I could hear him trying to breath and telling him he didn't have to try so hard, it was ok to let go, and we'd be ok. The hardest thing I ever did was tell my son that I love him, will miss him, and that it's ok to let go if he has to.
Very shortly after I got to work, I received a text message that would alter the entire night as well as Gabriel's birthday. There is a mom that I've been talking to, I was put in contact with her through a friend (her cousin). For the last month she's been due to have her first baby, a son, with a similar Potter's Sequence diagnosis as Gabriel. He had kidneys, but they were not healthy and not functional. His prognosis was the same as Gabriel's. Around midnight I received a text message that at nearly 39 weeks she had gone into labor. She was in the hospital and our boys would likely share a birthday. It took me a little bit to wrap my head around. My initial reaction was exactly this: "Oh God, please not today. Please don't do this to me today. She'll need me, I can't do this." After a short time I realized how special it is that our babies would share such a special day and suddenly I was ok with it. I was able to text her all night long, worry about her, send thoughts and prayers for her, and I seemed ok. I went to bed in the morning fully expecting to get a message that he had been born, but he hadn't yet. In fact he wasn't born till 3:37 that afternoon. He survived for 40 minutes with his mom and dad before Gabriel took him by the hand. Gabriel received a very special, but unfortunate, birthday present this year: A new friend.
Last year his tree was taken along with the solar lights and ornaments. Already this year, when we arrived at the cemetery, we noticed his hook was gone. This hook was placed there before his stone was placed there. All the other people's hooks and stuff were there, where did his hook go? I was heartbroken. It was there just last week when I went out to see him...
|His missing hook..... (old photo)|
At 6pm a bunch of our friends and family gathered at the cemetery to honor Gabriel and light his Christmas tree for his birthday. It was bitter cold - maybe 10 degrees. His stone was buried and had to be cleared of all the snow and ice that had covered its surface. I had my phone plugged in the car on the way there, it had significant battery life. Naturally as soon as we got out there, it died. It was even showing me the symbol to plug it in. I had music selected I was going to play and everything, but with no phone I couldn't do it. Naturally as soon as we got home, it turned on and had 60% life. It was ok, I just didn't have my selected music and couldn't take my own photos.
I was overwhelmed by how many of our friends and family were there for us this year, what a special blessing to have such wonderful people in our lives who are willing to bear the freezing cold to support us. We served hot chocolate and handed out ornaments for everyone to put on his tree. People were invited to bring an ornament of their choosing if they wanted to - and some did. My step mom brought flowers that they had put at the church earlier in the day. We waited to light the tree until everyone had a chance to put an ornament on it and his birthday candles were lit. Everyone sang Happy Birthday to Gabriel and we watched the birthday candles burn. As we left, they were still burning.
Derrick had brought the candle we had burning in Gabriel's honor at our wedding. We also placed a little candle in a heart shaped votive for baby Kade who had been born earlier in the day. After lighting Kade's candle I shared his story, many thoughts and prayers were sent up in that moment for that little boy and his family.
We also collected some toys for Toys for Tots. I'm taking them over to a huge Christmas display tonight and Evelyn will put them in the box just like she did last year.
This will likely be our tradition every year. On his birthday I will invite anyone to join us as we go out, light up his Chrismas tree, light birthday candles on a cupcake, drink hot chocolate, and donate to Toys for Tots. It's pretty perfect for us.