Our baby is a year old. We have a one year old.
We have spent a lot of time pondering, dwelling, and heartbroken over the what could have beens. We have been grieving expectation. The moments we anticipated. The firsts. The documented steps, smiles, words. The milestones. The development. The physical things that a bereaved parent has to learn to live without. Those experiences the world would like you to believe happen for everyone. Conversations that revolve around rosier colours and textbook dreams. Nobody talks about the unexpected. It is just too difficult.
But we have. We have talked, we have shared, we have introduced our son to the world. We have spent the first year of our son’s life pouring our hearts out, allowing others a glimpse into our world. A glimpse into his world. We have embraced our family exactly how it is – exactly how it looks. We have done this as we do not see any other choice. This is our family. Our story. A story in which our son plays a lead role. A story with ups, downs, adventures, but no endings. A story where we continue to learn lessons. A story that unfolds with each day we choose to embrace life together.
We could have chosen a different path. We could have hidden. We could have run. Instead, we have continued to walk a fine balance between protecting and exposing our hearts, understanding that it is okay to listen to your needs. That it is okay to take two steps back, or a leap forward. We have become better at avoiding small talk, averting eye contact, and dodging familiar faces. We have also become better at sharing, exploring the ins and outs of vulnerability. We are learning to focus on what we do have, instead of what we do not.
As I sit here a year out from the birth of my son, in an impossibly tidy, quiet house, I am contemplating the notion of time, wondering if we have made the most out of our son’s first year of life. Hoping that we have made him proud, that we have shown him the world, the life, that he so rightly deserves. Hoping that some day, we will reflect on this time outside of his mummy’s tummy, and smile, with fond memories and appreciation of the gift of parenthood that our son bestowed upon us. The many lessons that he has taught us. The colour that he has brought, and continues to bring to our lives. The beauty he has defined our family by.
Every day, every moment, is a new lesson. An opportunity to question, to explore, and to discover. Lessons that our son’s wondrous, gentle spirit brought with him into this world. He is not here physically, but he has made no less impact on the world. His life continues to grow. Together, we are learning how our little family can thrive, how we can still live this life in spite of the unexpected.
Owen inspires us to live our best lives. He lifts us up and takes us out into the world to explore. He makes us smile in moments that seem too dark to allow light. He makes us better people. He has introduced us to a love that we did not realize was possible. A love so beautiful, so pure, so impenetrable. A love that is ours. Ours.
Our son has enriched our lives and continues to do so. Today, we celebrate our beautiful little boy. Today is his day. Today, Owen Benjamin is one year old.
Happy Birthday, little one. Mummy and daddy love you so very (very) much.
This year has been full of its ups and downs, there have been smiles and there have been tears. Your first year of life (out of the tum) has also been full of adventures. Through the stories that we have read, we have learned of far away lands, of animals (some adorning silly garments), of a fuzzy bear and his honey pots (and another in his blue jacket), of naughty boys, of a lost button and friendship, of an unlikely detective duo, and, well, dogs.
We have explored the world as a family. From the oak trees, ducks and bustling markets of Provence, to the tower and love of Paris, to the monkeys and temples of Bali, to the planes and seagulls of Vancouver Island, to the loons of the Cariboo, to the sunflowers and castles of Spain, to the coastline of Portugal, to the bunnies, sheep and beauty of the English countryside, to the cable cars and ducks of San Francisco, to the seashore of the Pacific, to the hot chocolates and floatplanes in Vancouver, to the beauty of our own backyard – from the ancient forests to the alpine of the Pacific Northwest. You have also travelled to places in the hearts of many, making friends all over the world. You have a very special, well-travelled, ever-growing rock collection, too.
The adventures we embark on will continue to write the story of your beautiful life. A life that makes our hearts full. A life that gives us a reason to smile. A life that our family would not be complete without.
We love you, Owen Benjamin. Happy birthday.
(Now, let’s go on a floatplane.)