Austin's birthday is next month and the only way I know how to deal with it is to write. I know it will be an overwhelmingly hard day to face without him here. And instead of counting down each day with a deepening sadness, I'll focus on each year with him and the happy memories of his birthdays.
I'm thankful that I chose to write a piece about each year in his baby book because it helps me reflect back to that day. Even though it has been nearly 15 years, I do remember his first birthday clearly.
Tim and I were so excited to celebrate his 1st and planned his party for weeks before. Although we lived in Hartford, Tim was a member of the Cromwell Fire Department (our hometown) and we chose to have the party there.
It made it easy to decorate and prepare, as Austin was still a baby and just beginning to walk. He was too little to understand what we were doing, so he could be present as we hung streamers and balloons.
He actually gave me a present on his birthday. We'd worked with him for weeks on walking and he chose this day to do it with wobbly perfection. Because of this new found freedom, we placed him in his playpen, while we hung balloons and bear decorations throughout the banquet hall. We chose bears as the theme because we called Austin "our little Blair Bear" regularly.
I dressed him in a cute, bright green and white jumper. We sat him on top of the present table so that everyone in attendance could see him. And because we'd brought him an individual cake to tear into, we opted to let him open gifts first. Tim helped him open each one and I manned the camera. One of the presents we bought for him was a little red wagon and it became the holder for all the gifts as he opened them. At the end, Tim placed one of the balloons on his head and it stuck because of the static electricity. Austin tried to shake it off. Of course everyone in the room laughed, which tickled Austin and made him perform even more.
The little cake we had special made for him said "Blair Bear" and it was his first taste of real cake and icing. Austin dug in and loved every bite, licking his fingers and smiling through the whole thing.
When the party was over, everyone clapped, which again triggered a performance and Austin blew kisses to the crowd. It was a wonderful celebration for a child who'd changed our life in the past year, for the better.