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Birthday Boy

beautifulboyThirteen years ago today, we threw a first birthday party for our blond, apple-cheeked boy. Three months later to the day, he would be dead, from a virulent and rare form of strep. One day he was sitting in my lap with a book, clapping his hands when we came to his favorite page, and within 48 hours he was gone.

Thirteen years sounds like a long time. It’s not.

The experts say losing a child is one of the most wretched things to experience. It topples the natural order of things—your children should bury you, not the other way around. It’s completely upending.

Worse, it mixes an odd cocktail that you are forced to hold to your lips and shoot—something like one part of furious anger and one part defeated vulnerability. You gradually learn to stomach it, to cocoon it someplace inside, because it’s dangerous and scary to walk around like that. But grief is not linear. Sometimes, cyclically, you can taste it rising in your throat again, like bile.

Birthdays are one of those times. A child’s birthday—without the cake, the candles, the presents, the child—is an empty day. We sit around now and look at each other blankly.

“What do you want to do?”

“I don’t know,” I hear. “What do you want to do?”

It strikes me that, if our boy were here, he’d hardly recognize us. He has a little sister now, born a year and three days after his death. His older brother, who used to tower over only him, towers over us now, too. His parents live in two different houses. And the patient black Lab who tolerated a toddler’s straddling her like a bronco is gone, too, replaced by a trio of small, silly dogs and another Lab who doesn’t tolerate much.

The life he might recall ended when his did. I wonder what he’d think of that… and, in an odd way, I think he’d be okay with it. As the second son, the one who grabbed a nap in his car seat while I drove his brother to and fro—preschool, play dates—he was used to accommodating.

The night of the January 5, 1996, the snowy evening before we buried him, I shut the door to my office and thought hard about my boy. I thought about the cards that had come those past few days, the flowers, the hugs, the number of times I’d heard the cluck of the tongue and the words that went something like, “Such a shame. Such a life unfulfilled.”

They meant to soothe, but they stung. So I wrote this, below, in part to counter the unbearable thought that his life was, in any small way, lacking. From his perspective, I decided, it was very full. To the brim.

Someone—I don’t remember who—read this at the church the next day. And here, today, almost 13 years later, with that odd familiar taste in my mouth, I still have to believe it’s true.

* * *

January 5, 1996

To those of you who grieve because our Colin’s life was taken from him quickly and much too soon, I share your sorrow. We all grieve for a life seemingly unfulfilled.

But though brief, Colin’s life was indeed very full. And knowing that he lived his short life fully can give us all comfort during some very difficult days.

As a newborn, Colin was full of mother’s milk, which made his cheeks and belly grow round and his eyes shine.

Never happy to be set down for very long, he was full of yearning for the people closest to him, and he wanted to feel them holding him as often as he could.

As an older baby, Colin was full of curiosity for his big brother, reaching for his toys and projects, and reaching for hugs and kisses as only Evan can give.

He was full of affection for our dog Syd, and received much enthusiastic affection in return, as only a Lab can give.

As a toddler, Colin was full of lots of things; full to the brim.

Loving animals, music, toy cars and balls, he was showered with attention and full of wonder on his first birthday and during this past Christmas season. He especially loved books, and he was full of the joy of reading his favorites again and again.

He was full of excitement to see the people that mattered most to him: his Daddy coming in the door at night, his small friends and their older brothers and sisters, his family arriving for a visit.

And he was full of delight for smaller things, too: the guinea pig at his brother’s school, his first lollipop in his Christmas stocking, crayons and paint and paper to use them on. He was full of generosity; always ready to share any of these treasures.

Full of geniality, he was ready with a wide smile for family and friends and those who saw him only in the front seat of a grocery cart.

Colin was full of humor, waving bye-bye to me as he slipped down off the bed in the morning, padding down the hallway, and bursting open the bathroom door on Daddy; playing peek-a-boo around corners and in cupboards.

And sometimes, Colin was full of mischief. Stepping with his shoes on into Syd’s water bowl; scaling a flight of stairs before I knew he had left the kitchen, and working faster as I chased him.

Most of all, Colin was full of love. Full of the love poured into him by his parents, his brother, his grandparents, his aunts, his uncles, his cousins, and many special friends.

Every day for me, Colin was the sunshine, symbolized by the sunflowers present here today. With his blond hair, blue eyes and gentle ways, he was to me more beautiful than I could ever dream. Sometimes I worried about the heartache such a gentle soul would have to endure in this world. My angel is at peace.

We can grieve for Colin, today and for many days to come. But I ask you all to remember him, and talk about him, and to keep his light alive.

Remember Colin’s life not as one unfulfilled, but one that was filled to the top, and indeed overflowing.

Photo credit: Andrea Hart

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124 Responses to Birthday Boy

  1. Katybeth says:

    Happy Birthday Colin. You obviously had a very full three years of life! and I am glad your mother had the courage to share it with us.

    Katybeth

  2. Katybeth says:

    Happy Birthday Colin. You obviously had a very full three years of life! and I am glad your mother had the courage to share it with us.

    Katybeth

  3. Ann – My heart goes out to you. Thank you for sharing that.

    Here’s to Colin’s life: all too short, yes, but wonderfully well-lived.

  4. Ann – My heart goes out to you. Thank you for sharing that.

    Here’s to Colin’s life: all too short, yes, but wonderfully well-lived.

  5. Annie,

    It seems there aren’t words to say – at the same time everything you’ve said is so aptly put. I grieve with you today and celebrate Colin’s full little life. I thank God for his infinite comfort, and for you, my dear friend.

    Leigh

  6. Annie,

    It seems there aren’t words to say – at the same time everything you’ve said is so aptly put. I grieve with you today and celebrate Colin’s full little life. I thank God for his infinite comfort, and for you, my dear friend.

    Leigh

  7. David Reich says:

    Oh Ann… I don’t know what to say. I can’t even begin to imagine.

    Happy birthday to Colin.

  8. David Reich says:

    Oh Ann… I don’t know what to say. I can’t even begin to imagine.

    Happy birthday to Colin.

  9. Ann,

    When words fail us…just sending you a hug from one parent’s heart to another.

    Drew

  10. Ann,

    When words fail us…just sending you a hug from one parent’s heart to another.

    Drew

  11. Karen Swim says:

    Ann, thoughts, prayers, loves and hugs are being sent to you across the miles. Thank you for sharing Colin with us, he truly sounds like he blessed and was blessed his three years here in this life. There are no words and you truly captured the essence of grief, it ebbs and flows, never gone weaved into the fabric of our lives and peeking out like a stitch come loose at odd times. Bless you dear one, bless you.

    Karen

  12. Karen Swim says:

    Ann, thoughts, prayers, loves and hugs are being sent to you across the miles. Thank you for sharing Colin with us, he truly sounds like he blessed and was blessed his three years here in this life. There are no words and you truly captured the essence of grief, it ebbs and flows, never gone weaved into the fabric of our lives and peeking out like a stitch come loose at odd times. Bless you dear one, bless you.

    Karen

  13. Tim Jackson says:

    Ann,

    I can’t even begin to find the words to express all the emotions I feel as I read over these words and the feelings that propelled them from your mind.

    I am blessed with the smiles of my daughter and I fear losing them- just as every parent fears losing a child during those fleeting moments of sheer panic that come from those “oh my God, what if…” thoughts.

    Just know that I’ll never forget Colin’s place in your world and how his brief, yet full life impacted you and others (and now me) so gracefully and sweetly.

    If my arms were long enough, they’d be hugging you.

  14. Tim Jackson says:

    Ann,

    I can’t even begin to find the words to express all the emotions I feel as I read over these words and the feelings that propelled them from your mind.

    I am blessed with the smiles of my daughter and I fear losing them- just as every parent fears losing a child during those fleeting moments of sheer panic that come from those “oh my God, what if…” thoughts.

    Just know that I’ll never forget Colin’s place in your world and how his brief, yet full life impacted you and others (and now me) so gracefully and sweetly.

    If my arms were long enough, they’d be hugging you.

  15. Nedra says:

    Oh Ann, I am so so sorry. I can’t imagine the pain you have felt over these years. Hold onto those happy memories and keep him alive in that way. A big virtual hug to you.

  16. Nedra says:

    Oh Ann, I am so so sorry. I can’t imagine the pain you have felt over these years. Hold onto those happy memories and keep him alive in that way. A big virtual hug to you.

  17. The beauty of the words you use to share the beauty of Colin’s life has left me barely able to see the computer screen for tears. The love, the delight, the sorrow.

    What a son. And what a mother.

  18. The beauty of the words you use to share the beauty of Colin’s life has left me barely able to see the computer screen for tears. The love, the delight, the sorrow.

    What a son. And what a mother.

  19. Suze St Maur says:

    I can’t begin to imagine your pain, Ann – and I admire you for dealing with it so bravely. Your Colin was a lucky little lad to have such a wonderful life, even though it was tragically short. Sz … xx

  20. Suze St Maur says:

    I can’t begin to imagine your pain, Ann – and I admire you for dealing with it so bravely. Your Colin was a lucky little lad to have such a wonderful life, even though it was tragically short. Sz … xx

  21. rincy says:

    happy birthday collin and Ann, dont ever stop writing..although i can never even begin to imagine the pain you went through..just seeing the courage it took to write about it..makes me just want to hug you tight..thanks for sharing this precious part of your life..thanks again.

  22. rincy says:

    happy birthday collin and Ann, dont ever stop writing..although i can never even begin to imagine the pain you went through..just seeing the courage it took to write about it..makes me just want to hug you tight..thanks for sharing this precious part of your life..thanks again.

  23. When we read, we attempt to shift the story to ourselves. We thread your biography back over into our own world. If we haven’t had the same situation, we tie it on somewhere else. I tie this on to my “life is capricious” fear.

    Shortly before my daughter was born, my cat, Etoile, fell off my shoulder and snapped his neck. He died within a handful of seconds, looking into my eyes, in my arms.

    I immediately transferred this fear into parenting. Just how many things can happen? Time is never guaranteed, etc. I have strange, vivid visions daily of things that will take my family from me.

    With that as a backdrop, thanks for sharing your story. The part that meant the most to me was the letter at the end. I have a philosophy about death. Celebrate everything, including the life, the bad parts, and the death. Celebrate it however you can.

    I’m grateful for your story, for your sharing, and for you specifically.

  24. When we read, we attempt to shift the story to ourselves. We thread your biography back over into our own world. If we haven’t had the same situation, we tie it on somewhere else. I tie this on to my “life is capricious” fear.

    Shortly before my daughter was born, my cat, Etoile, fell off my shoulder and snapped his neck. He died within a handful of seconds, looking into my eyes, in my arms.

    I immediately transferred this fear into parenting. Just how many things can happen? Time is never guaranteed, etc. I have strange, vivid visions daily of things that will take my family from me.

    With that as a backdrop, thanks for sharing your story. The part that meant the most to me was the letter at the end. I have a philosophy about death. Celebrate everything, including the life, the bad parts, and the death. Celebrate it however you can.

    I’m grateful for your story, for your sharing, and for you specifically.

  25. Oh Ann, I’m so sorry. Thank you for sharing this. Truly.
    Robin

  26. Oh Ann, I’m so sorry. Thank you for sharing this. Truly.
    Robin

  27. Sonny Gill says:

    You sharing your story of the life of Colin on this beautiful but equally tough day, is truly appreciated Ann.

  28. Sonny Gill says:

    You sharing your story of the life of Colin on this beautiful but equally tough day, is truly appreciated Ann.

  29. Alan Wolk says:

    This must have been very hard for you to write, harder still to post for the world to see.
    It’s very brave.
    Thank you.

  30. Alan Wolk says:

    This must have been very hard for you to write, harder still to post for the world to see.
    It’s very brave.
    Thank you.

  31. Vicki VanValkenburgh says:

    My heart goes out to you and your family. I’m so sorry for your loss and your grief. But thank you for sharing Colin with us even in the midst of your pain — your words and your love have allowed us to know how special he was and demonstrate that a life need not be long to be full, rich and important.

  32. Vicki VanValkenburgh says:

    My heart goes out to you and your family. I’m so sorry for your loss and your grief. But thank you for sharing Colin with us even in the midst of your pain — your words and your love have allowed us to know how special he was and demonstrate that a life need not be long to be full, rich and important.

  33. Paul Chaney says:

    Ann,

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I’m moved beyond words and reaching out to you with a psychic hug which I hope you can feel.

    I so appreciate your willingness to share this very personal story. It endears me to you all the more.

    Finally, not really knowing what to say, let me join the chorus of others and say “Happy Birthday, Colin. Yours was a life well lived.”

    Paul

  34. Paul Chaney says:

    Ann,

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I’m moved beyond words and reaching out to you with a psychic hug which I hope you can feel.

    I so appreciate your willingness to share this very personal story. It endears me to you all the more.

    Finally, not really knowing what to say, let me join the chorus of others and say “Happy Birthday, Colin. Yours was a life well lived.”

    Paul

  35. Amy says:

    That is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  36. Amy says:

    That is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  37. Mark Goren says:

    Sounds like your boy was beautiful. Glad to you know you and, now, him.

  38. Mark Goren says:

    Sounds like your boy was beautiful. Glad to you know you and, now, him.

  39. Bdot says:

    made me cry….again.

  40. Bdot says:

    made me cry….again.

  41. Karen says:

    Wow, thank you for your courage and vulnerability and of course for sharing Colin with us. What a heart-opening gift!

    With my birthday tomorrow (10/6), I am reminded of another little boy, Anthony, I met a few years back who shares my birthday but didn’t make it to his first. I didn’t know him well but attended his funeral. Like Colin, the lesson he and all young angels teach us is that everyone dies, but not everyone truly lives. Thanks to them, and you, for the loving reminder of what it means to be fully alive.

  42. Karen says:

    Wow, thank you for your courage and vulnerability and of course for sharing Colin with us. What a heart-opening gift!

    With my birthday tomorrow (10/6), I am reminded of another little boy, Anthony, I met a few years back who shares my birthday but didn’t make it to his first. I didn’t know him well but attended his funeral. Like Colin, the lesson he and all young angels teach us is that everyone dies, but not everyone truly lives. Thanks to them, and you, for the loving reminder of what it means to be fully alive.

  43. Dana Ironside says:

    Ann,
    I’m so moved as I always am by your written words. To have written that beautiful letter right after your sons passing and see life in such a positive way is a real inspiration (as you can see by everyone’s comments) to all. You were and are still truly blessed to have known him and enjoy him for that time in your life. I’m sure you can’t imagine your life without that year of joy even if it came with the heartache we all so dread in our lives.

    Happy Birthday little one.

    Hugs from Vegas Ann.
    Dana

  44. Dana Ironside says:

    Ann,
    I’m so moved as I always am by your written words. To have written that beautiful letter right after your sons passing and see life in such a positive way is a real inspiration (as you can see by everyone’s comments) to all. You were and are still truly blessed to have known him and enjoy him for that time in your life. I’m sure you can’t imagine your life without that year of joy even if it came with the heartache we all so dread in our lives.

    Happy Birthday little one.

    Hugs from Vegas Ann.
    Dana

  45. Jeff Sass says:

    Ann,

    Once before I noted a small reference in your writing to such a loss and I didn’t have the nerve to ask. Now I don’t have to. You are such a gifted writer, and more importantly a gifted person. Your bravery and ability to share with such openness and import is your gift to us, your friends and readers. You have lived through the worse fear every parent must dread every day of our lives. You have demonstrated that even in this awful instance, we survive, and learn, and more than ever, we love. Colin was blessed to have you, and have such a wonderful, happy life. We are blessed to have you too.

    Now, I too, will think of your son often, and he will live on in all of our memories.

    Warmest regards,
    Jeff

  46. Jeff Sass says:

    Ann,

    Once before I noted a small reference in your writing to such a loss and I didn’t have the nerve to ask. Now I don’t have to. You are such a gifted writer, and more importantly a gifted person. Your bravery and ability to share with such openness and import is your gift to us, your friends and readers. You have lived through the worse fear every parent must dread every day of our lives. You have demonstrated that even in this awful instance, we survive, and learn, and more than ever, we love. Colin was blessed to have you, and have such a wonderful, happy life. We are blessed to have you too.

    Now, I too, will think of your son often, and he will live on in all of our memories.

    Warmest regards,
    Jeff

  47. Christian says:

    Ann, I can’t say I know how you feel, and I guess you probably can never really come to terms with such a loss. I don’t really know how to respond to such a brave and elegant elogy… I’ll hug my kids extra-hard tomorrow morning, and wish you peace of heart one day.

    Christian in Paris

  48. Christian says:

    Ann, I can’t say I know how you feel, and I guess you probably can never really come to terms with such a loss. I don’t really know how to respond to such a brave and elegant elogy… I’ll hug my kids extra-hard tomorrow morning, and wish you peace of heart one day.

    Christian in Paris

  49. Michele Miller says:

    Ann,

    You have my heart at this moment. My life feels a little emptier for never having known Colin, and your thoughts brought him to life for me. Thank you for sharing this very intimate part of your life – I am moved beyond words.

  50. Michele Miller says:

    Ann,

    You have my heart at this moment. My life feels a little emptier for never having known Colin, and your thoughts brought him to life for me. Thank you for sharing this very intimate part of your life – I am moved beyond words.

  51. Chetan says:

    Great story!
    And belated Happy Birthday Colin.

  52. Chetan says:

    Great story!
    And belated Happy Birthday Colin.

  53. Ann,
    Thank you for letting me into your warm heart. I knew about your little boy somewhat, but now unfortunately and fortunately, I know more. Your words are healing words, in as much as one can heal. I am so sorry about the pain that you still endure.

    Joel Libava

  54. Joel Libava says:

    Ann,
    Thank you for letting me into your warm heart. I knew about your little boy somewhat, but now unfortunately and fortunately, I know more. Your words are healing words, in as much as one can heal. I am so sorry about the pain that you still endure.

    Joel Libava

  55. Sean Tiner says:

    Ann,

    My thoughts and prayers extend to you and you family. After loosing my brother four years ago, I can relate to the personal struggle of enduring the birthday of a lost loved one. It’s extremely difficult to replace the empty void and to make sense of life’s randomness.

    I wish you and your family the best as you continue to move forward.

    Best regards,

    Sean

  56. Sean Tiner says:

    Ann,

    My thoughts and prayers extend to you and you family. After loosing my brother four years ago, I can relate to the personal struggle of enduring the birthday of a lost loved one. It’s extremely difficult to replace the empty void and to make sense of life’s randomness.

    I wish you and your family the best as you continue to move forward.

    Best regards,

    Sean

  57. Shelley says:

    Annster, I can’t read this without tears falling down my face. Bravo to you for being willing to share Colin’s story with the ache in your heart and, I can imagine, a Niagara of your own tears as you read and re-read what you have written.

    Being a parent is wonderful. And being a parent also sucks because of all the things, big and small, that you can’t prevent or control when it comes to making their lives perfect or painless.

    Colin is lucky to have been in your life, and vicey-vercy. I, for one, am glad to know his name …and his remarkable mom.

  58. Shelley says:

    Annster, I can’t read this without tears falling down my face. Bravo to you for being willing to share Colin’s story with the ache in your heart and, I can imagine, a Niagara of your own tears as you read and re-read what you have written.

    Being a parent is wonderful. And being a parent also sucks because of all the things, big and small, that you can’t prevent or control when it comes to making their lives perfect or painless.

    Colin is lucky to have been in your life, and vicey-vercy. I, for one, am glad to know his name …and his remarkable mom.

  59. Jo Tyler says:

    Happy Birthday Colin. It’s clear that you are dearly loved and missed. You know this of course, but your mom is really something special. And your brother and sister are the nicest kids I’ve ever met.

    As for the new trio of small silly dogs…I’m sure you would have loved them, too. (Although riding them like a bronco would definitely be out of the question!)

    Hugs to you and your brave, loving & talented mom…

  60. Jo Tyler says:

    Happy Birthday Colin. It’s clear that you are dearly loved and missed. You know this of course, but your mom is really something special. And your brother and sister are the nicest kids I’ve ever met.

    As for the new trio of small silly dogs…I’m sure you would have loved them, too. (Although riding them like a bronco would definitely be out of the question!)

    Hugs to you and your brave, loving & talented mom…

  61. Pingback: Five in the Morning 100608 « StickyFigure

  62. Dear Ann,

    When my daughter was six months old, she was so sick she wouldn’t stop vomiting and was so weak she couldn’t even cry. I frantically wrapped her in a blanket and sped to the hospital on a perilously slick freeway. My car spun out of control, but somehow we got to the hospital and she was triaged immediately.

    All I could think of during that entire episode was, “Thank you for letting me have six full months with my beautiful daughter.”

    I’d completely forgotten about this awful moment in my daughter’s babyhood until I read your piece. Thanks for so eloquently reminding us that every minute we have with our kids is precious.

    Happy birthday, Colin. Your life and your legacy are truly profound.

  63. Dear Ann,

    When my daughter was six months old, she was so sick she wouldn’t stop vomiting and was so weak she couldn’t even cry. I frantically wrapped her in a blanket and sped to the hospital on a perilously slick freeway. My car spun out of control, but somehow we got to the hospital and she was triaged immediately.

    All I could think of during that entire episode was, “Thank you for letting me have six full months with my beautiful daughter.”

    I’d completely forgotten about this awful moment in my daughter’s babyhood until I read your piece. Thanks for so eloquently reminding us that every minute we have with our kids is precious.

    Happy birthday, Colin. Your life and your legacy are truly profound.

  64. bethharte says:

    Ann,

    Thank you so much for sharing Colin’s birthday and his wonderful life with us all. Happy birthday to you Colin!

    Even those of us without children can take away something profound from your post and Colin’s life. Thank you for reminding us to take a step back from the overwhelming daily hustle that sucks us in and to remember to embrace the things that are most important: husbands, wives, children, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and friends…for they may be gone from our lives in a blink of an eye.

    For now, sending you a virtual hug Ann. You’ll get a real one in a few weeks.

  65. Beth Harte says:

    Ann,

    Thank you so much for sharing Colin’s birthday and his wonderful life with us all. Happy birthday to you Colin!

    Even those of us without children can take away something profound from your post and Colin’s life. Thank you for reminding us to take a step back from the overwhelming daily hustle that sucks us in and to remember to embrace the things that are most important: husbands, wives, children, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and friends…for they may be gone from our lives in a blink of an eye.

    For now, sending you a virtual hug Ann. You’ll get a real one in a few weeks.

  66. What a beautiful remembrance, my friend. Thank you for opening the door and sharing Colin’s life and birthday with us.

  67. What a beautiful remembrance, my friend. Thank you for opening the door and sharing Colin’s life and birthday with us.

  68. Liz Laneri says:

    Thank you so much for writing that. As several other comments mentioned, I think it is great that you are able to celebrate the life Colin had lived and could share that with all of us.

  69. Liz Laneri says:

    Thank you so much for writing that. As several other comments mentioned, I think it is great that you are able to celebrate the life Colin had lived and could share that with all of us.

  70. Doug Meacham says:

    Ann, I had no idea what I was getting into when I started reading this on the train this morning. I wasn’t expecting the gigantic lump in my throat or the tears welling up in my eyes. As a parent of a 14 year old daughter who often drive her mom and I crazy, reading this amazing post makes me pause and reevaluate the blessing that we have.

    Thank you for sharing Colin’s story with us, as difficult as I’m sure it was.

  71. Doug Meacham says:

    Ann, I had no idea what I was getting into when I started reading this on the train this morning. I wasn’t expecting the gigantic lump in my throat or the tears welling up in my eyes. As a parent of a 14 year old daughter who often drive her mom and I crazy, reading this amazing post makes me pause and reevaluate the blessing that we have.

    Thank you for sharing Colin’s story with us, as difficult as I’m sure it was.

  72. Ann – As I read your inspired and touching writing I was transported to events and lives that have touched mine over the years. Chris (Brogan) put it so well – we anchor what we feel in our experiences.

    It is a brave gesture that of sharing – it breaks down the dam one builds around the heart. I find that while there is no middle ground between keeping it all in and letting all out, “letting” is a sweeter conquest. To Colin’s full life, and yours – both splendid gifts to us.

  73. Ann – As I read your inspired and touching writing I was transported to events and lives that have touched mine over the years. Chris (Brogan) put it so well – we anchor what we feel in our experiences.

    It is a brave gesture that of sharing – it breaks down the dam one builds around the heart. I find that while there is no middle ground between keeping it all in and letting all out, “letting” is a sweeter conquest. To Colin’s full life, and yours – both splendid gifts to us.

  74. Happy birthday, Colin. And may warm memories and the passage of time bring comfort to your family.

  75. Happy birthday, Colin. And may warm memories and the passage of time bring comfort to your family.

  76. Jason Rubin says:

    I had a sister who died when I was just one years old; she was seven when she succumbed to leukemia in 1964. My parents never spoke of her or had photos of her displayed. My younger sister and I each found out about by accident. In later years, I managed to get my parents to be more public about her, and in doing so, she became alive in many more people’s hearts again. I would humbly offer to you that you should celebrate Colin’s birthday every year, and include his sister actively in it. Though they never knew each other, they belong to each other.

    I wrote about my sister recently in my blog here: http://dovenestedtowers.blogspot.com/2008/09/future-projects-v-family-history-2-my.html

  77. Jason Rubin says:

    I had a sister who died when I was just one years old; she was seven when she succumbed to leukemia in 1964. My parents never spoke of her or had photos of her displayed. My younger sister and I each found out about by accident. In later years, I managed to get my parents to be more public about her, and in doing so, she became alive in many more people’s hearts again. I would humbly offer to you that you should celebrate Colin’s birthday every year, and include his sister actively in it. Though they never knew each other, they belong to each other.

    I wrote about my sister recently in my blog here: http://dovenestedtowers.blogspot.com/2008/09/future-projects-v-family-history-2-my.html

  78. Jim Sutton says:

    Ann,

    On Colin’s birthday, what a gift you give to us by sharing these thoughts. Colin sounds like such a lovable, affectionate, and engaging boy. From your words, I have been able to experience some of his life and feel some of the fullness of it. You help me treasure my own children and grandchildren more. Thank you.

    Jim

  79. Jim Sutton says:

    Ann,

    On Colin’s birthday, what a gift you give to us by sharing these thoughts. Colin sounds like such a lovable, affectionate, and engaging boy. From your words, I have been able to experience some of his life and feel some of the fullness of it. You help me treasure my own children and grandchildren more. Thank you.

    Jim

  80. Gary Cohen says:

    Ann,

    I have been thinking about you quite a bit since your mention of Colin a few posts back. I will just tighten my mental hug and say thanks for writing this post and allowing us to be a part of your wonderful extended family.

    We learn so much from our friends and family, and especially from our children. Your beautiful letter said it all. You said that “It strikes me that, if our boy were here, he’d hardly recognize us.”

    Curious and caring. Full of wonder, especially a love of books and full of the joy of reading. Excited to see the people that matter most. Full of generosity and always ready to share. Full of geniality and ready with a wide smile. Full of the love from family and many friends.

    Two peas in a pod. He’d recognize you for sure!
    Gary

  81. Gary Cohen says:

    Ann,

    I have been thinking about you quite a bit since your mention of Colin a few posts back. I will just tighten my mental hug and say thanks for writing this post and allowing us to be a part of your wonderful extended family.

    We learn so much from our friends and family, and especially from our children. Your beautiful letter said it all. You said that “It strikes me that, if our boy were here, he’d hardly recognize us.”

    Curious and caring. Full of wonder, especially a love of books and full of the joy of reading. Excited to see the people that matter most. Full of generosity and always ready to share. Full of geniality and ready with a wide smile. Full of the love from family and many friends.

    Two peas in a pod. He’d recognize you for sure!
    Gary

  82. Losing a child is an experience I wish on no one. Focusing on how much life was lived instead of how much was lost, however short that life might be, is not easy and yet you’ve mastered it, I imagine you were forced to. The abundance of joy Colin gave and experienced leaps out at me when I read your letter. What a happy and fulfilled boy – how lucky you were to have him in your life.

  83. Losing a child is an experience I wish on no one. Focusing on how much life was lived instead of how much was lost, however short that life might be, is not easy and yet you’ve mastered it, I imagine you were forced to. The abundance of joy Colin gave and experienced leaps out at me when I read your letter. What a happy and fulfilled boy – how lucky you were to have him in your life.

  84. Sandy says:

    Ann -

    As you may know, I just lost a baby at 19 weeks and delivered him. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’m glad we got to hold him and say goodbye. He was a boy and we named him Augustine.

    I appreciate your post since I can understand what you mean about wanting others to know that he did have a fulfilled life. The thing that saddens me the most is that no one will ever get to know him or appreciate the kind of person he is – or would have been. It has taken me several weeks now just to be able to walk past a group of boys playing soccer, or to take my kids on a merry-go-round ride or to hear about a kid’s birthday party without feeling the pangs of loss – not loss of the baby, but loss of what will never be for Augustine. I feel like he never got a chance to make his impact on this world, or to have his childhood. And, as the SuperMom that I delude myself into believing that I am, the helpless feeling of not being able to fix this one. I have to let the wave of injustice roll over me.

    But, the thing that gets me through each day is knowing that those that are taken early, such as Colin and Augustine, are really the most blessed of us all as they won’t ever know any pain or suffering on this earth. Thanks be to God for his mercy.

    Strength to you.

  85. Sandy says:

    Ann -

    As you may know, I just lost a baby at 19 weeks and delivered him. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’m glad we got to hold him and say goodbye. He was a boy and we named him Augustine.

    I appreciate your post since I can understand what you mean about wanting others to know that he did have a fulfilled life. The thing that saddens me the most is that no one will ever get to know him or appreciate the kind of person he is – or would have been. It has taken me several weeks now just to be able to walk past a group of boys playing soccer, or to take my kids on a merry-go-round ride or to hear about a kid’s birthday party without feeling the pangs of loss – not loss of the baby, but loss of what will never be for Augustine. I feel like he never got a chance to make his impact on this world, or to have his childhood. And, as the SuperMom that I delude myself into believing that I am, the helpless feeling of not being able to fix this one. I have to let the wave of injustice roll over me.

    But, the thing that gets me through each day is knowing that those that are taken early, such as Colin and Augustine, are really the most blessed of us all as they won’t ever know any pain or suffering on this earth. Thanks be to God for his mercy.

    Strength to you.

  86. Bobby Lehew says:

    No grief can compare. We lost our Daniel four years ago to cancer. He was three.

    Thank you for summoning the courage to share.

  87. Bobby Lehew says:

    No grief can compare. We lost our Daniel four years ago to cancer. He was three.

    Thank you for summoning the courage to share.

  88. ethel says:

    Ann,
    Eileen shared…this tribute is so you. No wonder Colin was so special with you as his mom.

  89. ethel says:

    Ann,
    Eileen shared…this tribute is so you. No wonder Colin was so special with you as his mom.

  90. Kami Huyse says:

    Ann,

    I didn’t really know what I was up for when I followed this link. As the mother of two small children, and one more on the way, I could really relate to Colin’s sweetness at that age. And now we all know him because you have shared him with us. How courageous of you.

  91. Kami Huyse says:

    Ann,

    I didn’t really know what I was up for when I followed this link. As the mother of two small children, and one more on the way, I could really relate to Colin’s sweetness at that age. And now we all know him because you have shared him with us. How courageous of you.

  92. Kevin Burke says:

    Makes me more appreciative of every moment with my children. Thank you Ann.

  93. Kevin Burke says:

    Makes me more appreciative of every moment with my children. Thank you Ann.

  94. Donna Tocci says:

    A belated birthday to sweet Colin! Ann, you are amazing…to share this with all of us is courageous. As many have said before…a big hug to you.

  95. Donna Tocci says:

    A belated birthday to sweet Colin! Ann, you are amazing…to share this with all of us is courageous. As many have said before…a big hug to you.

  96. What a beautiful tribute! Happy birthday and happy life indeed, young Colin! Ann, your insight and courage is inspiring.

  97. What a beautiful tribute! Happy birthday and happy life indeed, young Colin! Ann, your insight and courage is inspiring.

  98. Zil says:

    As the tears flow down my face and I sniffle and honk in my typical unladylike fashion – I send you all my love – Thanks for sharing the joy of Colin’s life and the pain and hole that never go away… never. Even though my daughter Ann’s life was only a few days long, the wondering and imagining of what might have been doesn’t go away. Anniversaries of birth and death bring it all to the surface year after year. Not bad, just Hard. Love You – thanks for your gift of sharing through your writing.

  99. Zil says:

    As the tears flow down my face and I sniffle and honk in my typical unladylike fashion – I send you all my love – Thanks for sharing the joy of Colin’s life and the pain and hole that never go away… never. Even though my daughter Ann’s life was only a few days long, the wondering and imagining of what might have been doesn’t go away. Anniversaries of birth and death bring it all to the surface year after year. Not bad, just Hard. Love You – thanks for your gift of sharing through your writing.

  100. S. says:

    Ann, even though I never knew Colin, I always think of you and your baby boy when I plant sunflowers seeds into the earth every spring. Thank you for sharing a part of Colin’s life with us on his birthday. I will carry his story in my heart.
    Love, Susan

  101. S. says:

    Ann, even though I never knew Colin, I always think of you and your baby boy when I plant sunflowers seeds into the earth every spring. Thank you for sharing a part of Colin’s life with us on his birthday. I will carry his story in my heart.
    Love, Susan

  102. Megan Cordero says:

    Wow! I read it, I cried. I read everyone’s comments, I cried more. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful and moving story. And thank you for the reminder of just how precious every moment is. I will give my lil’ ones an extra hug in the morning, and forget all about the hysterical craziness that went on earlier this evening.

  103. Megan Cordero says:

    Wow! I read it, I cried. I read everyone’s comments, I cried more. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful and moving story. And thank you for the reminder of just how precious every moment is. I will give my lil’ ones an extra hug in the morning, and forget all about the hysterical craziness that went on earlier this evening.

  104. Ann,

    Thank you for sharing the inside of your heart. Your words will live in my heart for a while…taking me to this moment which begins in such a familiar way and ends with the unimaginable.

    “One day he was sitting in my lap with a book, clapping his hands when we came to his favorite page, and within 48 hours he was gone.”

    As I wonder sometimes how I am going to get through another moment with these 2 teenage strangers who have replaced my own adorable little boys, I will think of Colin for perspective. Thank you.

    Marianne

  105. Ann,

    Thank you for sharing the inside of your heart. Your words will live in my heart for a while…taking me to this moment which begins in such a familiar way and ends with the unimaginable.

    “One day he was sitting in my lap with a book, clapping his hands when we came to his favorite page, and within 48 hours he was gone.”

    As I wonder sometimes how I am going to get through another moment with these 2 teenage strangers who have replaced my own adorable little boys, I will think of Colin for perspective. Thank you.

    Marianne

  106. Peter Caputa says:

    Thank you for being so generous and sharing this with the world. As the father of a one year old boy, your story makes it so much more apparent the amazing life he’s experiencing already and how lucky I am to be a part of it. Colin and his story is certainly reminding many of us to live each day fully in celebration of the gift that life is. God Bless his soul. It’s shining brightly today.

  107. Peter Caputa says:

    Thank you for being so generous and sharing this with the world. As the father of a one year old boy, your story makes it so much more apparent the amazing life he’s experiencing already and how lucky I am to be a part of it. Colin and his story is certainly reminding many of us to live each day fully in celebration of the gift that life is. God Bless his soul. It’s shining brightly today.

  108. Shama Hyder says:

    Hi Ann,

    I am not sure if I can find the right words, but I will try….

    I am so so sorry for your loss. He was ONE lucky boy! I do believe that the people we love never leave us ,and one day we will definitely be together in spirit.

    Wishing you lots of courage and peace. Thank you for opening your heart to us.

  109. Shama Hyder says:

    Hi Ann,

    I am not sure if I can find the right words, but I will try….

    I am so so sorry for your loss. He was ONE lucky boy! I do believe that the people we love never leave us ,and one day we will definitely be together in spirit.

    Wishing you lots of courage and peace. Thank you for opening your heart to us.

  110. Sonia Simone says:

    Happy birthday, beautiful boy. The world loved you, and you loved the world.

  111. Sonia Simone says:

    Happy birthday, beautiful boy. The world loved you, and you loved the world.

  112. Sarah says:

    Do not think that there has ever been an October 4th gone by that I havent thought about your beautiful boy-The image of him bursting out of the kitchen cabinet makes my heart ache and soar-all at the same time…Thank you for sharing his birthday with us all
    Love Sarah

  113. Sarah says:

    Do not think that there has ever been an October 4th gone by that I havent thought about your beautiful boy-The image of him bursting out of the kitchen cabinet makes my heart ache and soar-all at the same time…Thank you for sharing his birthday with us all
    Love Sarah

  114. Cam Beck says:

    Today I’m leaving work early and hugging my children extra tight. I’ll not say a word to them, though. The lump in my throat will prevent me from speaking.

  115. Cam Beck says:

    Today I’m leaving work early and hugging my children extra tight. I’ll not say a word to them, though. The lump in my throat will prevent me from speaking.

  116. Ann,

    Thank you for celebrating Colin’s life with us.

    Love,
    CB

  117. Ann,

    Thank you for celebrating Colin’s life with us.

    Love,
    CB

  118. Shari says:

    Wow. What a wonderful way to share the joy of your son’s life…and the pain of losing him. I’m consumed by tears at the thought…I have a little son so like how you describe Colin. The thought of losing him completely overwhelms me. You are such a strong person to share this.

  119. Shari says:

    Wow. What a wonderful way to share the joy of your son’s life…and the pain of losing him. I’m consumed by tears at the thought…I have a little son so like how you describe Colin. The thought of losing him completely overwhelms me. You are such a strong person to share this.

  120. GiGi says:

    Ann, I remember your photo of Colin coming out of the cupboard and have often reflected on that as my own children have done the same playing hide and seek. I also have seen you carry Colin with you in your strength and love of life. We haven’t seen each other in many years, but I can see you in your writing and in your reflections on life. Happy Belated, Colin.

  121. GiGi says:

    Ann, I remember your photo of Colin coming out of the cupboard and have often reflected on that as my own children have done the same playing hide and seek. I also have seen you carry Colin with you in your strength and love of life. We haven’t seen each other in many years, but I can see you in your writing and in your reflections on life. Happy Belated, Colin.

  122. Jan Richards says:

    So very, very beautiful, Ann!

    Thank you for sharing a very difficult story and time in your life.

    You have written such a wonderful tribute to the beautiful life of your precious Colin.

  123. Jan Richards says:

    So very, very beautiful, Ann!

    Thank you for sharing a very difficult story and time in your life.

    You have written such a wonderful tribute to the beautiful life of your precious Colin.

  124. Chris Turner says:

    I have a five year-old named Colin. When I read the dedication in your book, and then read this tribute, I did what any parent would do shortly thereafter: I went home and hugged my son tight. I’m sorry for your loss, but I’m thankful that you shared this. 

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