Today you would have celebrated your 18th birthday. A milestone that is typically a joyful time but as this day approached I was worried about how I might manage. Over the past weeks I have been looking through photos, my blog posts, and your journals. I continue to be inspired and astounded by your joy, selflessness, love, courage, and kindheartedness. I look at your smile and sparkling eyes and remember how no matter what loneliness or pain you felt you would greet me with such joy and love — hugging me and reminding me of what is most important.
Ryleigh when you were with us, I was so immersed in the constant stress and trauma of our experiences. I was so entrenched in doing all the things that needed to be done and looking forward to when we would be done with hospitals and you would be in remission. I was not very good at slowing down and just being in the moment. You were good at that…I should have learned from you. I know your last few years were so hard but upon reflection I loved every moment with you. I cherish our moments together when we would be in a hospital room- watching some reality show or criminal drama. We would be waiting to hear about a test result or next steps, yet we laughed, talked, and spent time together that was meaningful. I wish I had appreciated it more.
Ryleigh, I miss you so much. Saying goodbye to you and missing you has been the hardest thing I have ever gone through – there are days I wonder how I will endure the deep sorrow I feel. I endure my grief attacks because of you. I have moments when I am overwhelmed by your absence – bursting into tears, feeling lost, and wondering why. But I manage because I knew you wanted me to be happy. You were selfless because you believed you were a burden. Ryleigh, you were never a burden. Your bright heart and joyful way of living even in the darkest times was something I admired and loved about you. I wanted to give you a present for this birthday.
For your 18th year…
I will try to be more courageous and live life to the fullest.
I will embrace each moment as if it is my last.
I will hug and snuggle your sweet nephew, Callum, like you would hug me.
I will look for joy and happiness in the smallest things.
I will love with my whole heart and not be afraid to be vulnerable.
I will eat black forest cake from the middle and enjoy each spoonful as I dig in.
I will smile more and try to add some sparkle to my days as you did to mine.
I will write more – share my thoughts and ideas.
I will love myself and cherish each moment I have with hope, grace, and kindness.
I will honour who you were the best I can.
Ryleigh, you were never a burden – instead your are a true blessing and gift. Each day I treasure your gifts and what you gave to our little world.
Happy Birthday my Miss Merry Sunshine….I love you so much.