Another Birthday Letter to Avery
Today would have been your ninth birthday. So Happy Birthday, Aves.
Avery, we miss you more today than yesterday, and yesterday more than the day before. Every day without you hurts more and more.
It has been 20 months since we last held you in our arms, kissed you, hugged you and had you with us. It is still hard for each of us to believe this is our reality…
We know you’re still doing great. We prayed all along, from the day you were diagnosed, that God would heal you from the cancer. That you would be able to walk and run, that you could take that patch off your eye, that you would be made whole again.
And you are. Cancer free, in heaven, waiting for us. We can’t wait to join you someday.
But the pain is still great. Each and every day.
Mom and I think about what you would have been in to, what you would have wanted to do for your 9th birthday party. Alex had a night on the town, dinner, movie, shopping for her 9th birthday. Cade went to a hockey game with all his friends. We think about what you would have wanted to do. Who would you have invited. What kind of cake would you have asked for. Just what kind of veggies you would have wanted with the pizza (we know that veggies and pizza would have been a part of it).
A lot has gone on since your last birthday. Some good, but is it really any good when you can’t be here with us?
We went on a family vacation to San Diego this summer. It was fun. Had a house on the beach and played at the beach every day. We even went over to Coronado Island again where we took one of our most favorite pictures of you, and took a picture again, Cade, Alex and Addison all holding the picture of you. Your smile, your charisma, all there in the picture, but missing from us. We spent a couple days in Anaheim at Downtown Disney. We just couldn’t bring ourselves to go in to Disneyland. Not yet at least. That was such a fun time when we got to go in October 2015 with all of your cousins, aunts, uncles and grandma. But we’re not ready to go back there yet. Too hard.
Addison started kindergarten this year. She should be at school with you. I know she couldn’t wait to join you at school. She gets sad that she doesn’t get to see you at school. But she has Mrs. Brown, just like you did in Kindergarten, and that makes her feel a little better. Sometimes, Addison comes home and tells us songs or things she learned in class and we remember them when you came home with the same enthusiasm to share it. Addison is playing soccer this year too and she’s wearing #7, just like you loved. I know you were so excited to play soccer in the fall, before you got sick. It breaks our heart to know you didn’t get a chance to.
Cade is in middle school now with Alex. So he’s at a new school. I know he was sad to leave Lakeland after 5th grade because of the memories he got to make with you when he would visit you in Ms. Sergis’ class. But he likes middle school. And guess what? Mrs. Brown’s husband, Mr. Brown is his principal. So that makes three of you that get to have one of them be a part of school.
Alex is at the same school she was when you got sick. Her teachers and especially her principal there have been so wonderful since you got sick. She’ll start high school next year- the same school that dedicated their football season to you when you got sick, that gave you balloons and flowers and shirts that said brAvery. They’re doing good this year too. You would have probably talked me in to taking you to a game this year, and I would have taken you because you would sit still as long as I got you snacks.
Mommy is working hard, every single day, running the foundation we started a few months after you left us. We just had a big Gala over the weekend and raised almost $100,000 to help find a cure for the monster that made you sick and took you from us. She works so hard every day so that other mommies and daddies never have to hear the awful news we had to, so that other little kids don’t have to fight what you had to. She won’t stop fighting until there is a cure. She promised you that and she is keeping her promise.
Daddy is doing ok too. Work has been crazy. But there have been so many people who he worked with or knew from work that always ask about you and how they can help fight back. There are still football teams and baseball teams and tournaments and games that are all helping us fight back against that monster.
You’ve made a lasting impact, Aves!
But we’re still sad every single day. The car rides where we miss you, the bedtime stories we don’t get to tell you, the movies we go see without you. The holidays, the birthdays, the vacations. All where you should be with us, enjoying and experiencing them the same way Alex and Cade and Addison get to.
We had a sad day in June too. Coco got sick too and died. That made us sad. You loved Coco. You helped pick her out and she loved you. Especially when you came home from the hospital for the last time, you knew my rule about the dog being upstairs, but she made you so happy and calm when she was laying on the bed with you and you could pet her and she would just lay there for hours with you comforting you. After you left us, I would take walks with Coco a lot and I would think about you the whole walk and Coco would remind me of those happy moments you spent. We were really sad when she died.
So a couple weeks after, we got a new puppy named Scout. Scout, as you would say “is cray-cray”. He is a lot different than Coco. He runs around a lot and he wrestles with Jack. Oh yeah, Jack was mommy’s birthday present from you last year to Alex and Cade and Addison. You wanted a cat, so Mom got a cat. Jack is a nut too. Addison loves Jack, so does Cade and Alex and Mom. Im not a cat person, so I’m partial to Hoppy Jumpy. HJ is doing great too!
Sometimes we’ll take Scout to walk through Lakeland Hills Park. Remember how many times you’d cross the monkey bars there or you’d race Cade (and beat him) around the park? Well now the park has a bench with your name on it that will be there forever to honor your legacy and your memory. You loved that park, and now a part of the park will honor you forever.
Last year I had so much to write and say and tell you. This year, there is still a lot to write and tell you, but now, it just seems so much harder to write, to collect my thoughts and compose myself. Because every day when I wake up, every day that mommy wakes up, we’re another day apart from you. And that hurts.
Aves, we think about you all the time. We talk about you all the time. I wear an AveryStrong shirt just about every time I fly or go somewhere. Anytime someone asks, I tell them about the toughest, bravest little girl I have ever known.
Just the other day, Mommy was at Target and wearing her AveryStrong shirt. Someone asked her about it and she got to tell her all about you and what we’re doing now to honor you and fight for you.
Its hard when people ask because they feel bad and sometimes get sad, and we get sad too, but we are so happy to tell people about you and how special and incredible you were and the impact you have made.
Avery, every day, you are on our minds and in our hearts.
We miss you so badly. Every single one of us. Your mom, me, brother, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and friends. We hope we are making you proud with everything we do, because we are so proud to be your mom and dad, your family, your friends.
We love you kiddo, more than words can ever say. We miss you so much that words aren’t enough.
And we will continue to fight for you just like we promised.
Happy Birthday, Avery
Mommy and Daddy