Monday is your birthday.
So first of all, happy birthday, Cowboy.
There is so much I want to say to you. There are so many words in my heart for you that it is beyond capacity--it is about to burst at the seams. I can't even express how badly I wish I could say them to you, snuggling your sweet face at your first birthday party. That's what I wish I could do.
Matthew, in the year since you were born, a lot has happened. Some things have changed. Some things never change.
I know you are so proud of your mommy, so I don't have to *tell* you to be proud of her. But you should be. Your mommy is simply one of the greatest people I have ever known. She is strong and she is loving and she is so full of grace and kindness.
In the year since you were born, your mommy and daddy have been working hard to impact the lives of children in need of their love. They are eager and willing to take on what others view as a challenge. They cannot wait to carry on the spirit of you and your sister in the name of love for these children.
In the year since you were born, I got pregnant and had a baby girl. There are times, Matthew, when she laughs in her sleep and I would swear, hand on a Bible, that she's dreaming of playing with you and your sister. I felt the two of you SO strong with me after my operation. When your mommy came in and cried and hugged me and held me, I whispered as such to her. You were with us, watching over my baby girl and me and your mommy. It was so special and meaningful to have your mommy with us. I know how important Evelyn is to her, and I know without a doubt that you and Katie are keeping a close eye on her for us.
In the year since you were born, there has been a lot of tears. There have been moments of unbearable pain. There were times when Mommy and me held each other in restaurants and cried, imagining my Papa holding you and rocking you in his arms. There were days where all I could think of was you.
But, Matthew, in the year since you were born, there has been unbelievable joy. There have been vacations and visits. There have been true friendships. Oh, Matthew, there has been laughter. There has been "that's what she said," and beach photos and shopping trips and backrubs and cuddles and so, so much love.
If I could do two things differently, having known how things would turn out, it would be this. One, I would have held your mommy tighter, rubbed her belly a little more, and told you I loved you more through her tummy. Two, I would have been by her side in the hospital, the way she was for me. But these things, I cannot change.
What I can do is continue living my life in honor of your sister and you. I can hold Evelyn close and know how lucky I am to have her. I can remind myself, in moments of anger or desperation, that she is a blessing. I can continue to share her love with your mommy, and be sure that I am the best possible friend I can be. Because she deserves it, doesn't she? You are so lucky to have such an amazing mommy. And everyone who has her in their lives is equally as lucky.
Matthew, this year without you has hurt. I miss you. I miss the 23 weeks of absolute joy you brought your mommy. I miss you in ways I can hardly understand, because I didn't get to hold you or love you or kiss you, the way I see your mommy do to MY baby. And I miss that. I hate that I never got that chance--to show you how much I love you. But this year has taught me so much. It has given me hope and guidance. It has kept me strong in times of sadness. You, Matthew, have done that. Because we miss you and it hurts. But that's not all. We miss you and it's beautiful. We miss you and are full of your love. We miss you and it's overwhelmingly amazing, because to MISS you, we had to have HAD you. And no matter how short or how long it lasted, we had you, Matthew. And we are all better for it.
I don't really know how to end this, and I don't want to end it. In a way, I never do. I carry you with me everywhere I go. You and Katie have changed my heart in such a magnificent way. So instead of ending it, I will turn to what I often do, and that is a song. A song that spoke to me tonight and reminded me of you. I love you, Matthew, and I miss you every day. Thank you for all you have given me.
Tell me have you ever wanted
Someone so much it hurts?
Your lips keep trying to speak
But you just can’t find the words
Well I had this dream once;
I held it in my hands
She was the purest beauty
But not the common kind
She had a way about her
That made you feel alive
And for a moment
You made the world stand still
Yeah we owned the night