How is it possible that our Cooper would have turned 11 today?
11 years. A whole decade, plus one.
We’ve gotten accustomed to the ache of missing him. It hurts every single day, but especially on his birthday. The day we remember where it all started for us as parents. I was a nervous wreck over my c-section, but my ears were sparkling extra that morning, with the diamond studs DW had given me as a gift to celebrate bringing our boy into the world. I’d found out a C-section would be our method of delivery just five days prior, and I was devastated over it. Bless DW’s heart. When I got home from the doctor that afternoon, I just cried and cried. He went to the back and came out with a little gift bag and little jewelry box inside. He said he’d planned to give them to me at the hospital after Cooper had been born, but I was so upset, that I needed some cheering-up. He’s a good-good man, that DW. He has loved me well our now, almost 15 years together. Of course the gift made me cry even more. Ha.
I decided soon after Cooper was born that I’d give those earrings to his wife when he chose one someday. It was the perfect plan and a future dream. That’s the hardest thing about his birthday… all those dreams we had, we’ll never get to see. We’ll never see him blow out the candles on his 3rd birthday cake, or learn to ride a bike, or drive a car. We’ll never know what his first day of school would look like- who his friends would be. We’ll never see the smile and excitement when we bought him his first truck. We’ll never send him off to college, or see what career path he chose or watch him fall in love, get married and have a family of his own…. All of the dreams that all parents have for their kids.
But we did get him for 27 months. We saw him blow out candles on two birthday cakes. We saw his first crawl, his first steps, heard his first words. We took him to Disney World – FOUR times...(yes, we’re a little over the top around our house, and I’ve never been more grateful that we are!) we watched him splash in the river, and run on the beach. We took him to see the big, big rocks in the mountains. We watched him form relationships with our family and create memories that really do last forever. We only had him for 27 months, but we really did make a lifetime of memories with him. Having him changed us, loving him changed us, and losing him changed us. We are so thankful for our oldest boy and we know that we know that we will see him again one day.
We have gone out to the cemetery every year on his birthday, with my mom & Dad and Mr. Pug & Kellee. We always send balloons Heavenward and this year was no different. The kids and I got 11 Happy Birthday stars this year. They were all sweet letting them go. I’ve always worried about how to handle Cooper’s death with his sisters and brother. I worried maybe they were too young to know about him and to handle the harsh reality that it’s not just old people who die. But I also couldn’t imagine living life without talking about him and remembering him. I think all families have to do what is best for them, and for us, it has always felt right to keep including Cooper. It’s important to me that he never be forgotten. The best part was when we turned around from letting the balloons go, there was a rainbow. It took my breath. A beautiful reminder of God’s promises to us. “Be strong and courageous…..for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Deut. 31:6