I can't believe it's been two years. I know that Ethan is now almost 10 months old, so it has to have been that long, but in so many ways it still feels like it was just yesterday...
I always feel like we don't do enough for her birthday. I say always...it's only her second birthday...but still... I don't know what would be enough. I don't know that "enough" exists. Mike keeps telling me it was perfect. I suppose I'll have to take his word on it.
We did a balloon release this year. I got four purple balloons while Mia was at camp yesterday morning, and then we took them to Leesylvania State Park and had a picnic lunch. I also got cupcakes from Confections and brought candles to light and sing happy birthday.
And then it was messy.
I wanted to do the balloon release last, after lunch and cupcakes and happy birthday...but then while we were eating two of the balloons popped when the wind blew them onto the grass. I didn't see anything sharp, but the wind was a little brutal, and before I knew it we were down to two. I had wanted to have one balloon from each of us: Me, Mike, Mia, and Ethan. It turned into one from the kids and one from the parents. It suddenly occurs to me that we had two balloons for her 2nd birthday...that's a little fitting and it makes me feel a little better about the balloon carnage.
I brought a marker and we wrote messages to Charlotte on them. I asked Mia what she wanted to write on her balloon to send up to Charlotte. She said, "Happy Birthday, Charlotte!" I wrote that. Then I asked if she wanted to say anything else. She said, "Do you want a cupcake, Charlotte?" Then she asked me to draw a cupcake on the balloon so we could send Charlotte a cupcake. I love my kid.
Then we wrote on our balloon: simple messages of love and gratitude.
We went into the middle of the field to release them. I was worried they wouldn't clear the trees because of the wind. Mike and Mia both held the ribbons while Mike held Ethan, and then on the count of three they let go. Mia waved goodbye.
They did clear the trees...barely...thank goodness. I almost cried when the two other balloons popped...if the last two got stuck in trees or were popped as well, I might have lost it.
Then we finished lunch and went to light the candles. Remember that brutal wind I mentioned? Yeah. Seriously, I have these grand, idealistic visions of how things will be and how things will go, and then there's reality and it's so darn messy. Mike finally was able to turn his back to the wind and light the candles right in front of him. Mia blew them out...or at least tried to and then the wind did it for her and she luckily didn't notice. We sang happy birthday.
When Mia was a baby, I didn't let her have cake until her first birthday. I wanted her first real taste of cake to be special. Ethan's only ten months old, but I thought this was a special circumstance. It seemed important that we ALL participate in the celebration.
It was simple, but it was good. I also got the kids each a small stuffed animal that I said was Charlotte's birthday present to them. They both liked them a lot, which was nice.
After the kids went to bed last night, we wrote out her birthday card. It's a lot like last year's card: a list of all the things we believe she had influence on with our thanks and appreciation and love.
As a side note, finding a card for this type of situation is very difficult. Very few companies make cards relating to the loss of a child...especially cards to the child that has died.
It's gratifying to be able to continue to add to her baby book. When I first wrote in her baby book, I cried because I thought it would all stop on page five. No first tooth or first steps or any of that. Then I realized, when we decided to celebrate July 22nd rather than mourn it, that I could continue adding to her birthday pages. It's nice to have a tangible thing I can use to prove we still have another daughter.
I always feel like we don't do enough. It was small and simple and quiet. I took Ethan outside to listen to the wind chime, and it made him smile. That was simple, too. Maybe simple is best. It's about her. It's not about me or what I need...it's about loving her. Loving her is simple.