In exactly 1 month Payton should be turning 9. That means it has been almost 2 years since we got to celebrate a real birthday with him. His “last” birthday is burned into my memory like it was yesterday. This was “before DIPG”. He had the tumor, but we didn’t know it yet. We all went camping at Barnes Park for the weekend. Our campsite was just past the bathrooms and the stairway that leads to the beach. It was close to the park, just how we liked. We had his party on Saturday and most of our friends and family joined us for food, cake, ice cream, and gifts. I tried really hard to give him a great birthday party, as I always tried when my kids were small. He wanted a superhero birthday party. I bought superhero capes and masks for all of the kids who would be there. I heat pressed all of the kid’s names on the backs of them. Some of the kids wore their capes to the park, it was adorable. We had given Payton a hover board for him birthday, along with his “actual birthday-day” cupcakes at home with just our family. The kids rode it around the campground, a couple of them falling, including Payton. Trenten came to our campsite telling us Payton had fallen and Jason went and got him. He was a tough kid and snapped right back as usual. We spent the weekend playing in Lake Michigan, roasting marshmallows, and hanging out with family. I remember one night he was ready for bed, falling asleep in the camp chair. He wanted me to go to bed with him but I wasn’t ready for bed. I told him I’d be in in just a bit. I wish I had gone and snuggled with him. Had I known it would be his last earthly birthday, I would have. I would have done so many things differently.
As it gets closer to his 9th birthday I feel my anxiety raising. I feel myself being sad, angry, and in deep pain. I have scars on my heart that will never heal. You cannot see them, but I feel them every single day. There are days like today where my heart literally hurts. I feel sharp pains when I think of my sweet boy. When a grieving mom tells you she misses her child so bad it hurts, she means that literally, not as a metaphor. I live a life full of “half-happiness” now. I try not to take my heartbreak and bitterness out on those I love, but sometimes I do. I try to mostly smile, but a lot of times I cry. This is me now. I still don’t know if I’ve truly accepted the fact that Payton is never coming back. In fact just typing that last sentence has me all fucked up. I try to ignore the fact that he is gone, just to get through the days. I think about him every single day, multiple times a day, actually I don’t think an hour goes by that I don’t think of him. Something reminds me of him always. To say I miss him is an understatement.
We will be releasing butterflies to Payton on his birthday this year to celebrate the 7 years he lived. They say “If you whisper to a butterfly they will deliver your messages to Heaven”, so the butterflies can deliver our happy birthdays to him.