Heather Gray

Flawed...but loved anyway.

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A Happy Birthday Wish

September 3, 2015

Dear Sweet Ladybug,

Happy Birthday.

I can't believe you're celebrating another one. I'm sure I'd be saying the same thing if you were here with us instead of there with Jesus.

I've wondered recently whether or not there are birthday parties in heaven. I know, it's not the most holy of thoughts, but it's one that's crossed my mind a time or two. Or more. If for no other reason than because it makes me smile, I've decided there are indeed birthday parties in heaven. I picture yours much like the one in Winnie the Pooh. Casual, not too fussy, with a table whose chairs are filled by the people you love. In your case, that means everyone. Oh, and you have a pink tablecloth. That's an important detail. I picture you serving tea out of a chipped pot to all your guests and telling them each how pleased you are that they could make it.

I'm sorry we don't get to have a birthday party with you here. I so wish we could.

I look at the other girls your age, and sometimes I envy their moms. Not as much as I used to. I mostly wish them joy. But sometimes… There are still those days when the weight of loss stoops my shoulders. On those days, I remind myself of all that you gained, the immeasurable joy that fills your days. That helps.

Can you catch a glimpse into our lives from where you are? If you can, I know how proud you are of your brother. He's grown much over the past year. He's not a different person exactly, just a better version of himself. I'm seeing the beginning of manhood in him, a maturity and wisdom that wasn't there before. But don't worry – he still has the same quirky sense of humor.

Your dad and I celebrated our nineteenth anniversary. I was cleaning recently and came across pictures from our tenth. We renewed our vows, but you weren't content to sit in a pew. You rushed up on stage and held our hands. Because why wouldn't you? You felt safe coming into our space. You wanted to share in our celebration. And you were unafraid. There's always that. Anyway, that was the picture I found. You up on stage with us, holding our hands.

I continue to do my best to live the lessons I learned from you. I try to give of myself without fear, love others unashamedly, look out for the needs of others ahead of my own, and sow seeds of courage and love wherever I go.

My heart has not stopped missing you, and I've accepted that it never will. I see you in the faces of smiling children, beautiful sunrises, and blooming flowers. Not to mention, every time I hear the phrase "chocolate goodness." I see you in the sparkle of anything pink and in the dancing of the fireflies. In the ladybugs, too. Always in the ladybugs.

Not a day goes by that I don't wish for a hug or the sound of your laughter. That's how I picture you in heaven, by the way. Hugging the newcomers, laughing with pleasure, and praising the God who calls you His own.

The day will come when I see you again, and oh what a day that will be. Until then, though, I will continue putting one foot in front of the other, cheering your brother on at every turn, loving your father the best way I know how, serving God in whatever capacity He's called me, and missing you. In the missing, though, I will celebrate.

I will celebrate the life you lived with us here.

And I will celebrate the life you now live in heaven.

Thank you for being the best daughter I could have ever asked for.

Thank you for loving me selflessly and without condition.

I miss you, Ladybug, and I love you always.

You are forever in my heart.





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Beautiful. Hugs and prayers

How beautiful, Heather. What a vivid, bittersweet picture you paint. Every day you are generous and kind, an amazing legacy for your daughter. I imagine her raising her teacup to you, her eyes bright and twinkling.