This post was written by my wife, Brandi.

Dear Tate,

Today is your 2nd Birthday, but just like your 1st Birthday, it is not the Birthday that I had planned for you.

Last year I stayed up very late the night before your birthday putting the very last touches on your party stuff. It was a wild animal’s 1st Birthday party in honor of our 1st wild year with you. I remember wrapping water bottles with new “Tate is One” labels. Everything was perfectly planned and ready, so I went to sleep. I woke up in the middle of the night sick and in a lot of pain. Then the puking started and just kept going. Daddy got up and could tell I wasn’t feeling good, he asked me if I was going to be okay. I told him of course, it’s our baby boy’s 1st birthday we have lots of fun things to do today, I am going to be fine. But, I wasn’t, I couldn’t even stand up to get you out of your crib without throwing up. I knew I was going to need some help, so I called your Grandma Trace who rushed right over. The pain in my side was getting worse and I was starting to realize that something was really wrong. I told my Mom I needed to go get checked somewhere. She called Whitney to come to watch you, Lexi, and Hunter.

When Whitney arrived I walked into the family room and saw you. I couldn’t leave until I held you. I asked Whitney to bring you to me as I sat in our recliner. She placed you in my arms and I just held you. Then the tears started rolling down my cheeks. Looking back now that moment reminds me a lot of the day you were born and the nurse placed you in my arms. It was a special moment for the two of us. I was in so much pain physically, but I knew that I had to hold my little guy on his birthday. I remember asking Whitney, “Why did this have to happen today? Any other day would have been fine, but not today.” Then I went to the hospital and found out I had to have my appendix removed. I asked the Doctors if they could give me a pill or something just so I could get through the perfect party I had planned or if I could come back later and get my appendix out then, but they only laughed at me. The party had to wait.

At the time everyone told me that it was fine and that you were the only one, so you wouldn’t remember. That there would be a lot more birthdays for me to be a part of and that it wasn’t a big deal. But, when I was thinking about this earlier this week, how I missed the only birthday that you would have here on this earth I was feeling robbed. I told your Daddy that if I knew that was going to be the only birthday I got to share with you that I probably would have sat in the recliner holding you all day and just let my appendix burst because that wouldn’t hurt as much as it hurts not having you here for your 2nd birthday. I am very aware that our little family’s life does not go the way we planned, but this just seemed so unfair to me. Why couldn’t I have just one birthday with you?

And then it hit me…because of what happened with my appendix we celebrated your birthday for a good 2 weeks. I came home from the hospital the day after your birthday and I sat and held you in the recliner again and you and I opened all your presents. We opened them slowly and let you play with each one as we went. There was no need to hurry to get through everyone’s gifts. It was just us, so we took our time. Then every day there seemed to be more presents or another way to celebrate you and your birthday. We had the perfect birthday party for you that was planned; it just came a week later. Everyone who was at your party can tell you what an amazing one-year-old boy you were. You sat on the floor and opened each gift and put on quite the show for everyone. You clapped and screamed “Yay” for your gifts. You were so excited at the party and we had unwrapped so many gifts since your actual birthday that you knew exactly what you were doing. I loved watching you entertain everyone and be the star. It was a very happy birthday and I am so glad we got to stretch it out over a couple of weeks. We like to party at our house and we really celebrated your first birthday!

Now it’s your 2nd birthday and this one is not the party I had planned either. I should be planning the perfect outfit for you to wear at your party, not wondering when your headstone is going to be finished. I should be decorating with Mickey Mouse all over the house, but we are not. We are meeting family at the cemetery and letting a bunch of balloons go up to heaven for you. I would give anything to hold you in my arms today. I know you are close; otherwise, I wouldn’t make it through the tough days like today. I miss you so much. I can’t even dream of how amazing you must be. If Heavenly Father needs you more than I need you right now, you must be doing something very important. And I am so proud of you! Your Daddy and I feel so lucky to have you in our family.

Lexi and Hunter love you so much and still make you a big part of our everyday life. I watch them and I am always wondering what you would be doing if you were here with them. Would you still look in the mirror and yell, “Hunter! Hunter!”? Would you still let your sister hug you as tight as she can without complaining? Would you still get all the kids yelling “Ahhhhh!” as we drive up the washboard dirt road to the cabin? Would you still sing “Happy Birthday” with your famous long drawn-out “Haaaaaa…”? Oh, what wonderful things would you be doing right now?

It hurts so much and I can’t plan the perfect 2nd Birthday party that I always wanted for you. But, even if I knew the heartache losing you would cause our little family, I would not trade you for anything. Having you on earth for 18 months was so special and we treasure every moment you were here. You have touched so many people and made them better. We are so lucky to be your family! We love you precious boy and can’t wait to be with you forever, we will do everything we can to make sure that we get our forever with you. Thank you for watching over us and for coming to our family. Our parties here on earth may not have gone the way we planned, but that just means we get to have a bigger party in heaven! Happy Birthday, Tate, Mommy loves you!

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