"Your life begins when someone says your name. Your life ends when someone stops saying your name."
Today is Matthew's birthday. Twenty-six years ago my husband and I became parents and our world and our hearts expanded in ways we never could have imagined. Matthew was the one who first taught us to be parents, and we are so grateful for his presence in our lives, even though it was cut tragically short.
We've celebrated five birthdays since he died, and I've written about two of them, here and here. One thing that I've learned these past five years is that one doesn't get over the loss of a child...ever. There will always be a huge Matthew-shaped hole in my heart, and I wouldn't want it any other way. That loss is a part of me, and always will be.
For bereaved parents there are now two days that we commemorate our children each year-their birthday and the day they died. Obviously, the anniversary of their death has a very different feel to it than their birthday. Their birthday is still a day of celebration and joy. So if I have any advice to people who wonder if they should acknowledge the birthday of a child who has passed, I would say absolutely. Memories are all we have now, and we cling to them so that our children continue to exist. Birthdays are a way to acknowledge and celebrate a child's arrival into our lives however many years ago it was, even if they aren't actually here to blow out the candles on the cake.
So today, on Matthew's birthday, we are going to celebrate him, his life and all that he meant to us. We are actually going to Palm Springs to attend a film festival, something our movie buff son would certainly approve. We will take a long walk in the desert this afternoon and go out for Mexican food tonight (one of his favorites) and we will toast the unique and wonderful person that Matthew was. We will always be grateful for the time we had with him.
I've shared this version of Forever Young before. I guess it's become an anthem of sorts to me. We love you Matthew.