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.