A Very Merry Birthday

Three years ago I organized a group of my friends to “adopt a family” for Christmas.  We bought toys and gifts for a single mom and her son who were in need. One of my friends asked me afterwards, “if they can’t afford Christmas presents, what happens at their birthdays?”  I knew of many programs in the community that help struggling families, but I had no answer to her question.  We spent the next year creating our own non-profit to address such a need.  A Very Merry Birthday was born.  We matched a child at the local Boys & Girls club with a volunteer, or “Birthday Hero” who would buy that child gifts and a cake.  The goal was for the child to take the gifts and cake home to celebrate with her family, promoting togetherness.

I love birthdays; I think they’re kind of a big deal.  I always throw myself a big party to celebrate mine.  My family still exchanges gifts on each other’s birthdays even though we are now all adults.  I love getting other people gifts, especially if they are well thought out.  I may be a little late in getting gifts to their recipients (sorry mom, it’s coming), but I come through.  I always gave a good birthday wish to anyone on facebook who had a birthday.  For our wedding we did a charity fundraiser and names A Very Merry Birthday as one of the charities and raised thousands of dollars.  Because every child deserves a birthday.

Mabel had a birthday but it was also her death day.  I am still having trouble digging deep and finding those celebratory feelings for others.  No more facebook posts wishing others happy birthday.  I still get gifts for my family, but I’m a whole lot slower.

The nonprofit I started with my friend is on hiatus.  She valiantly took over the whole thing in December when Mabel was diagnosed with a poor prognosis.  I’m so grateful she was able to see the school year to completion- it was a lot of work for the two of us, I can only imagine how she managed on her own.  We are taking a break as we figure out the future of our organization.  The idea of helping other kids celebrate their birthdays while Mabel never will is a little painful.  I’m working hard on myself and trying to learn how midwife again in the face of my loss, I don’t have much left to give at the end of the day.  So for now, A Very Merry Birthday sleeps.  Our motto, Every Child Deserves a Birthday, has never rung truer.  My child deserves a birthday, too.

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4 thoughts on “A Very Merry Birthday

  1. You give so much to others and you take care of others – professionally and personally. Do not feel badly for taking care of yourself first. Put your own oxygen mask on first. It’s about survival right now.

  2. What a lovely thing you started for other children. I completely get the lack of joy after loss. I am suffering from that myself. Mabel definitely deserves a birthday – it is heartbreaking that it is also her death day. Grief is utterly exhausting. For now, you need to look after yourself. xxx

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