Happy 4th Birthday, Ayden Brooks

Ayden's 4th birthday was on Saturday.  The weekend was a whirwind of events as my 30th birthday was on Friday, so we were between celebrating (which we mostly reserved for Sunday because I never really want to celebrate my birthday on my birthday.  A lot of emotions....I'm just left feeling drained and just wanting to spend the evening in a quiet place not doing a whole lot.)  So, I'm just now getting around to the birthday post.

Friday night, Jeremy's cousin honored Ayden at his girls' soccer game.  He is a coach at a private school, and each year he honors Ayden on/around his birthday by gathering his players together and sending off balloons.  This year, he made it a bigger event by having t-shirts made for SIDS awareness.  Ayden's initials were painted on the field (you will notice the "J" is backwards in honor of all of those who have lost a child to SIDS).  Then, they ended with the big balloon release.  It was such an honor to be there, and I wouldn't have spent my birthday any other way.

 They sure do make the tough days a lot easier to face
 She loves her brother to pieces

 Jeremy spoke to the team afterwards about hope and continuing to live with hope even when you face an uncertain future
 You can see the t-shirts here

 I love seeing these balloons every year.

On Saturday  morning, I woke early and posted the following to facebook as I remembered the morning of April 27, 2009.  Still in labor...but so excited to meet my first baby.

Happy 4th birthday, Ayden Brooks. I see you daily... In a passing Collen glance or a little Charlotte smirk. There are traces of you in every breath I take. You are never more than a heartbeat away and soon enough, I will have you back in my arms. I love you, sweet boy. You continue to touch lives; we are so very proud to call you our son.

Ayden made me the mother I am today.  I don't take one single second for granted.  I didn't take any for granted when he was with us either.  I now know why I had such an urgency about me over Ayden.  Every single day he woke up, I thanked God that he was breathing...alive.  Each night, I prayed over him and told God that if He should need to take Ayden to let me accept that as His will and purpose.  I have to admit, I can't bring myself to pray so unselfishly now.....but I still know that my children are not my own.  But they are my precious treasures.  I have an abundance of treasure in Heaven and in this world.  But this world is fleeting, and I'm doing everything within my power to be sure ALL of our treasure is stored up in heaven whenever the time comes for all of us to get there.

On the morning of Ayden's birthday, we took Collen and Charlotte to a local event called "Touch-a-Truck."  It was nice to get out as a family and enjoy being outside looking at all the big trucks!  Collen loved the front loader - even got to make the bucket go up and down.  He also loved the classic car.  He ran around in the back of a food pantry truck and honked the big horn in the DOT truck.  Poor thing wanted to get in the bouncy castle, but all the big kids were in there and I knew where that would lead.  He would have gotten out quickly because there were just too many kids in there.  All in all, it was fun...fun to just be together.

Later in the afternoon, we all got together as a family...cooked some burgers and hot dogs...spent time together and let the cousins play together.  Then, as the sun started going down, we ventured out to Ayden's spot.  This was our 4th year gathering together.  The mood is always somber....yet uplifting as we are all together remembering our sweet Ayden.  We decided to things differently this year and release lanterns instead of balloons.  The lanterns were absolutely beautiful!  Watching them lift into the sky....I got choked up...just watching them float up and away.  There was a peace in that place...in that moment.  Then, they floated out of sight.  All week, I've just been in disbelief that it has been 4 years since I heard those first cries and held my first son for the very first time. 4 years since I experienced the most amazing event in my entire lifetime - becoming a mother for the first time.  I remember the fear, anxiety, questions, stress, and overall feeling that I wasn't doing anything right....yet, our baby grew, and he smiled, and he loved, and he developed into the sweet, happy, silly little baby we will never, ever forget.  4 years doesn't seem like that long ago, but at the same time it seems like it has been so much longer.  I feel so much older than 30.  I guess that's what grief and loss will do to a person.  But I keep reminding myself that as each day passes, we're one day closer to being together again.

Several friends remembered Ayden with us by sending up balloons with their families or singing Happy Birthday to Ayden and sending those videos and pictures to us.  They will never know how much we appreciate that.  To know that Ayden continues to be remembered. <3 all="" much="" so="" thank="" you="">

 I still find myself in disbelief that this is our reality.  But God has been good; He has seen us through and has allowed us to find hope in the darkest of times.  I'm so thankful for the hope we have in Him and the patience He has with us as we walk through these tough times....when we question and doubt...and point a finger at him while we ask "why" over and over again.  But when the light starts to come back in, He's still there welcoming us back and assuring us He never went away.  He is beside us through it all and will see us through to the end.

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