“Celebrating a birthday reminds us of the goodness of life, and in this spirit we really need to celebrate people’s birthdays every day, by showing gratitude, kindness, forgiveness, gentleness, and affection. These are ways of saying: ‘It’s good that you are alive; it’s good that you are walking with me on earth. Let’s be glad and rejoice. This is the day the God has made for us to be and to be together.”—Henri Nouwen. (Note: even if alive in the eternal and only with me in spirit.)
If you asked me how I would want to spend the day yesterday, Jon’s first birthday in Heaven, I definitely would not want to spend his 55th birthday without him here with me and the kids. Never in my wildest dreams—or nightmares—would I have imagined my beloved husband and father to my four favorite people not being here with us at this very young age.
I would tell you so many things that would scroll through my mind to honor him and keep his memory alive, and I had no idea what was right. How do you celebrate the birthday of your husband and dad when he is not here? Maybe we could take balloons to where he rests and sing out of tune on a beautiful sunny day. Or we could eat his favorite cheesesteaks for lunch and tacos for dinner. Maybe we could do all that, perhaps we did.
I would tell you I wouldn’t know the best way to honor a birthday when celebrating feels wrong because I’m in a season of unimaginable loss while trying to wrestle with the desire to sleep all the livelong day and to keep going because life simply does not stop just because you lost the love of your life and spouse—the person you are closest to for most of your life, who you had to watch slowly slip away.
I would tell you I want to keep living and searching for joy and peace and focus on what matters most while never wanting to live a day without him. “Peace isn’t the absence of problems. Peace is the presence of Christ midst of the storm.” Thanks to my friend, Jen, for the thoughts about peace who drove over two hours in her own pain to celebrate with my family. Joy is being right with God, knowing God is in control of all things and being determined to praise God in all things. Joy and peace are both fruits of the Holy Spirit.
I would tell you I want to show my children we can still feel our grief and pain of this unbearable loss that often feels like a carpet has been pulled from beneath our feet. And it’s okay to still want to find joy and peace and still want to reverently celebrate. I am discovering the world really doesn’t know how to comfortably acknowledge and accept death, loss, and grief. This is definitely a story for another day.
I would tell you I would find myself creating for days, planning for weeks, and not feeling like I’ve done much more than fall short because my patience has run short. My stamina is low while my emotions run high. Still, we did our very best to pour our hearts into the new things we’ve been making for the shop to remind ourselves, even in grief, that It Is and can be well when we keep our eyes on God and remember those we love. I am continually humbled by the gifts God has given me and how He allows our journey to inspire creativity and others.
I would tell you we’d take our shop on the road with my four kids and their two amazing friends and find myself surrounded by many of mine to show the kids and others its okay to both grieve and choose to live. We just have to be more patient with ourselves and expect much less as we surrender to God so many things beyond our control. Allowing yourself to be open to receive the love and support (and hugs) of others has its own tremendous blessings and rewards that cannot be denied. I am grateful to God for every single one of them.
I would tell you I don’t know what I would do or what makes sense to celebrate when Jon is no longer here. I have never experienced a loss quite like this. So it only makes sense for the kids and I to do the things we know—to do what Jon and I grew accustomed to doing—we celebrate birthdays with cake and balloons. So a friend brought Jon’s favorite cake, and we brought the balloons to the best party on the most beautiful day ever when we took our shop on the road for the entire day.
I would tell you there is nothing like our family bringing our shop to our favorite faith festival, Abbey Fest, being surrounded by our many treasured friends with blessed and timely conversations while celebrating the Eucharist and Adoration and listening to some of the best worship music as we honored Jon’s first birthday in Heaven.
I am in awe for the many ways we were consoled and God provided when the ache was so great as we sang Happy Birthday and ate Cake in honor of Jon.
Happy Birthday, my beloved husband, Jon and most amazing father. I bet you had the best carrot cake and party among the angels and saints in the throne room. You are loved beyond measure and missed beyond words.
Thank you to those who supported our shop this weekend and in the past. Your support and excitement for our handmade products have helped us through many challenging days.
I am grateful to have met so many old and new readers and patrons of our humble little shop, which seems to grow with every new thing we create.
Your kindness and generosity with your words and your blessing of our shop and our family have been a tremendous gift to the kids and me.
Now, we really must be still and rest.
It’s been a long week. The creative let-down is rather intense, and exhaustion is too. The goodbyes to my kids and their friends feel sadder each time.
It is raining, and all my kids (and their friends) have returned to school and work. I am slowly returning to mine—writing, creating, and preparing to open up the new releases and inventory.
More new products will be released in the coming days. Stay Tuned. We will be taking the show on the road again soon.