Overwhelmed, grateful, encouraged, blessed, sad, anxious, burdened, peaceful, hopeful … a short list of emotions felt this past year and today, Owen’s 1st birthday. Every first and every milestone this past year was bittersweet … our first “family” vacation without Owen, birthday celebrations without Owen, holidays without Owen, every day life without Owen. Each first and each milestone brought with it a flood of emotions. The absence of Owen is so painfully obvious at times.
We really didn’t know what to expect today, we didn’t know what emotions would surface. Would we get through the day with a sense of peace? Would the day overwhelm us? What we did know is that we wanted to honor Owen’s memory and honor and glorify our Father who has so purposefully etched out this past year for us. While we cannot say that we completely understand His plan or His purpose in losing Owen, we have hope in knowing that although Owen will not return to us, we will go to him (We will go to him, but he will not return to us. 2 Samuel 12:23).
Today, we celebrated and remembered Owen. We started the day with our traditional birthday pancakes. Then, after a storm blew threw this morning, which has significance in itself as "Praise You in This Storm" has been our theme song, the skies opened up to a beautiful, sunny day. We went to the cemetery and released balloons and had a picnic. Jack was a little worried about releasing the balloons as he was wondering if this was littering, but Samuel assured us that the balloons would go to Owen in Heaven. We also had a birthday cake made by a sweet friend. We were going to make our own birthday cake for Owen, but we don’t make Jack or Samuel’s birthday cakes, so it seemed natural to have a cake made for Owen as well.
In the weeks leading up to today it was painfully obvious that we were not planning the typical 1st birthday party for our little guy, I was not painstakingly creating invitations, we were not planning a coordinating birthday cake, nor were we planning Owen's birthday menu. Despite this, we did feel God's hand upon us today as we celebrated Owen and as we reflected on his life and the blessings he has brought to us. We also listened to Owen's Memorial / Celebration of Life service today. During which, our dear friend Jon put together a list of 15 "good things" that had resulted from Owen's short life. Over the past year, while still painful, it is obvious that the list of 15 has grown.
In memory of Owen, we are planning a family vacation to Tennessee this summer where we will drop off a donation at the Hope Clinic. We feel that a part of Owen is there at the clinic. A dear lady, Kaye makes beautiful tiles, and she made us a gorgeous family tile and a tile for Owen. She also made a tile for the Hope Clinic which uses a saying, “There is no foot too small that it cannot make an imprint on this world.” This had been and continues to be our “motto” for Owen’s life. In addition, she used a print of Owen’s feet on the Hope Clinic tile. Over the past few months we have been gathering supplies on the Clinic’s wish list. Thus, we are trekking down there this summer for our family vacation. We will see the tile in person and drop off our donation in memory of Owen.
To those who have so graciously remembered and encouraged us this past year and today, we are grateful. We love you all dearly and praise God for each one of you. And, we will continue to praise God as He gives and takes away. We may not always understand, but we will always praise Him, even in the storms in life.
Praise You in This Storm
And every tear I've cried
My strength is almost gone
I barely hear You whisper through the rain