Thao's birthday this year was a mess of sickness. I had all these plans to leave the day wide open. To plan to unplan was my thing this year.
How would we feel? What would it be like to have a twelve-year-old? Do we watch the same movies? Eat the same foods he wanted when he was five? Visit his grave or go to his favorite spots? Watch old home videos and cry our eyes out or go adventuring and laugh at all the fun we were having just being together?
And I was sick. So sick. Upset that I couldn't do anything special to celebrate my sweet boy. I wanted to set the day aside. Let it be special. But I was already struggling because I had no idea what my Thao would want at twelve. Twelve.
But I see how it all worked out. God orchestrated a day that I could not. Jeff was home, therefore we were all together. It was just us, our family. It was a quiet day, in pajamas mostly. Watching movies and reading and listening to Jeff play with the kids. They colored and talked and played games. They made pizzas for dinner and a huge chocolate chip cookie for dessert. They even remembered to get our sparkling juice so we could have our special birthday toast.
"To Thao!!! Who would have been twelve today...."
and my lament turned into sadness and overwhelming grief. Just like that. As I listened to my husband, Thao's daddy, break into unashamed tears, I knew this was it. This was the day we needed. A quiet day, remembering our quiet boy. A day of no expectations. A day with no boundaries in grief. No definition of sorrow. A day to be free. To celebrate. To rejoice. To remember. To relive. To dream. To cry. To lament.
Sweet Thao, we miss you deeply. We long for eternity with you. We cling to hope and the promise of heaven, although some days that feels so far away. I didn't know I'd make it this long, Thao. I didn't know I'd last almost seven years without you. I didn't know I'd be able to keep willing myself to breathe, breath after breath. Walking step after step, one day at a time, without you adds up to this gigantic whole of time that my mind cannot even comprehend. But yet, I've done it again. I've survived another birthday, another day, another beginning of school. Where you should have been I see a hole. Where you should be begging me to do all the new and adventurous things, I long to be able to tell you no or to be careful. When I see your friends, I see your missing spot. When I see your siblings, my soul knows there should be more. When I lie awake at night, I wonder how I will keep on. But I know how. Just like I have these past seven-years. I know I will because I will continue to take it one step, one breath, one day at a time. It will never be easy. In fact, Thao, I believe in a lot of ways it's getting more difficult.
Is there such a word for deep, long-term sorrow?
Is there such a word for the grief that encompasses every fiber of being?
Is there such word for the way you mold my life beyond your grave?
I have such a love/hate relationship with your grave. Why must I go there to feel close to you? When you were never there? You never had breath in your lungs there. That is where we laid your body. Your soul is untouchable. Even here on earth, sweet Thao, no one could touch your spirit. My child, if you had lived to be twelve, what a different story I'd be writing now.
One of strong will and determination. One of parenting doubts and fears. One of parenting woahs and letting go. One of growing up...
How I wish I could be in the place of lamenting your growing older instead of lamenting the loss of your breath. How I long to know you now. How I miss your smile. Your laugh. The sparkle in your blue eyes. How I want to play mama bear to those growing up girls noticing your sparkling blue eyes. Life is not fair. It never is.
We have what we don't want or we want what we don't have. Learning to be content without you, sweet Thao is the biggest challenge I've ever had to face. To cup your face between my hands once more...
There will be a day. I believe with all of me, the Lord created us with this deep, powerful love to show us his love for us. To draw us close. To keep us wanting. To give us more. What a gift you are still, my Thao. I will see you again. Happy Birthday, sweet boy.
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.