Sunday, December 23rd, was Nates 6th birthday. I have a picture of him from last year when we had taken him to eat at a Japaneese steakhouse on his birthday. We don’t eat out often but we always do on birthdays. His special choice for birthday dinner was Sakura. He loved going to Sakura but not for the food. He went because he liked the production of the chef, the fire and the tricks. The picture I have is Nate holding up 5 fingers with that big smile while out to dinner last year. He was so proud that he was old enough that his fingers took up “one whole hand”. I was looking forward to this year when he got to hold up that 1 finger on his 2nd hand so that now he used two hands. He was supposed to hold up 6 fingers this year.
We celebrated Nate’s 6th birthday with our family and a few of Nate’s close friends. I think it’s appropriate to still celebrate a life that meant so much to us. For without Nate’s birth we wouldn’t know of his love, his life, his heart, his fun, his smile, his spunk, his strong will or his friendship. His life is to be celebrated always. We decided the appropriate way to honor Nate was to have his cousins and friends release helium filled glowing balloons to heaven. Several children wrote messages for Nate on their balloons. One friend even tied a card he had made to his balloon. Following my childrens births this may have been one of my sweetest moments. It was sad but the love filled my heart. I felt warmth in the bitter cold. The adults released a hot air filled balloon. The site was breathtaking as we watched red hot air balloons float away. I heard children say “Look the balloons are almost to Nate. They are almost to heaven. I can’t see them anymore they must be in heaven.”
Nate, I hope the streets of heaven were filled with balloons for you!
December 24th, we went to Christmas Eve service with my family and the kids. As always, it was a great service, a reminder of how He is still speaking to all of us and of His Love. I was a very proud mom during worship as Drew stood on the chair between Justin and I and wrapped his arms around both of our necks with such strentgh and love. He watched the songs on the screen and he sang so proudly. We have a tradition of the kids exchanging gifts among each other after church on Christmas Eve. Although Kaylee is still too young to understand Drew began asking that morning when he and Kaylee could exchange their gifts. Now, for the past few Christmas’s Nate had asked for, without fail, the truck from the Hess gas station. Each year they are a little different but all make noise and fit Nate’s boyish personality exactly! Justin and I decided that we wanted to still buy the annual Hess truck that Nate would of asked for I know. Nate was the child that circled every single toy in every single toy magazine and added each to a wish list. We would have to narrow his list way down to the toys we knew he would play with the most. The Hess truck was one. So, on Christmas Eve, Drew opened a Hess truck as a gift from his angel, Nate. Drew was proud and honored and it made me smile that he would share that love.
Christmas Day had ups and downs. We made it through with the help of our family. They were here for us and we needed them. We needed their love and we needed to see their love for Nate. I know Nate was with us too. I could feel his presence in the midst of the commotion and excitement. As cousins sat around the tree to tear into presents I could see Nate so vividly ripping through presents. My mind ran through Christmas morning 2 years ago as Nate dumped out his stocking in disappointment, literally, as Drew showed excitement with each and every item. Nate had a one track mind and was only interested in finding that “horsey trailer” (as he called it) that he’d asked Santa for. The disappointment of not finding that trailer in his stocking left as quickly as it came when he realized he still had presents wrapped from Santa behind him. I have that morning on video and we have watched it in the past and cracked up laughing at the whole scene. To be honest, right now as badly as I want to watch it, I know that I am not ready for videos.
We were all sick over Christmas and I tend to think it was a divine plan to distract our minds. Christmas day I cuddled a sick baby girl with a fever who wouldn’t leave my hip. I was even late getting showered and prepared for our afternoon Christmas with family. Definitely not our style but Christmas day we didn’t stress. We did things at our pace as we needed. We were surrounded by love and support by friends, family and our community. Thank you all for your thoughts, notes, cards, and prayers. And thank you to the secret Santa’s that left a few unexpected gifts at our door step last week. You should know you brought a smile to our face with your generosity and thoughtfulness!
As we approach the New Year and what is supposed to be a happy weekend and filled with New Years resolutions and wishes I feel worn down. I really don’t want to admit this but I am dreading a New Year. I am not ready to start 2013 without Nate. I’m not ready to do this. Every day I wake up and still hope this is all a dream and that Nate will be standing at my bedside whispering “Mom, can I wake up?”. Each and every day I am filled with memories and reminders. The little things that nobody but us will have. A trip to the store is grocery aisles filled with Nate’s favorite cereals and snacks, a car ride is filled with memories of “Look at that truck” or the recall of every deer he’d ever seen along the roadway, or all the crazy conversations. A trip to the mall is the instant recall of the new shoes he’d picked out, Reebok Zigs, black with big yellow soles for Kindergarten. He wore them proudly, threw pennies into the mall fountain, and kicked the big blow up Ravens fan. Every corner I turn I can see a memory of Nate. I buy the wrong flavors of snacks for Drew thinking they are his favorite but then realize they were Nate's favorite. I sit at a wrestling meet and wonder if I have cash for the snack shack then realize I don’t have Nate running back and forth for pizza, gatorades and push pops. For weeks I ordered too much milk from the creamery and people would ask “Why is there so much milk in your fridge?”, well because without Nate I’m still figuring those things out. How does one prepare for a new year when it doesn’t feel so new?
I know us and I know that we will get through 2013 and we will be okay. We will do this as a family with faith, hope, and love. I am in prayer for God to walk us through this journey and that He will continue to open His arms to us. I will still Hope and I will still strive to be Better.
And I will Be Great for Nate.