From the Grieving Mama: Throw an Extra Candle on the Quarantine Birthday Cake

I was rocking my 4 month old and scrolling Facebook when I saw the post that made me react in a way that I wasn’t proud of. 

A Mom posting her sentiments of disappointment and sadness that her daughter wouldn’t get a 5th birthday party this year with friends. 

Just a simple post.
Just a Mom expressing her sadness for her child.
Just a Mom sharing her disappointments about what wouldn’t be. 

Have you ever done that? Have you ever found  yourself reading something completely innocent, but reacting in a way that rumbled up your soul a little bit?

I caught myself amidst an eye roll and I muttered, “whatever” under my breath before I can even comprehend my reaction. Why did that annoy me? Of course it’s sad that we’re canceling all of the things right now. I’ve had to cancel my fair share of trips and events, so why did this innocent post trigger me?

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the sunflower garland that frames my daughter’s bedroom windows. The garland that was strung between the trees at my first daughter, her big sister’s, burial. I slowed the rocking chair down and stood up and walked into the dining room. I stood in front of the wall where a drawing of Francesca and Emily hangs. My baby girl and my cousin who have passed. 

I let out a sigh, kissed the top of my infant’s head, and said to myself, “now the whole world knows what a grieving mother is missing every single day, month, year”. 

Not just this year, but every year, our child has no birthday party with friends or family. 
Not just this year, but every year, our child doesn’t get to finish a school year. 
Not just this year, but every year, we won’t get to see our little ones learn a new skill at practice or get their first trophy or compete in their first sport. 
Not just this year, but every year, we don’t get to take a family vacation with everyone present. 

So, Mama, it’s perfectly okay to grieve the canceled birthday party. It’s normal to feel all of the disappointments and sadness and anxiety from disruption, but from a Mom who will never get to see her baby grow and blow out their candles year after year, can I make a simple request?

Make it special. 
Take all of the pictures. 
Bring the joy.
It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does have to exist.

And, if you think of it, if you remember….

We would be so grateful if when you light the candles on the quarantine birthday cake, you throw an extra one on there for the kids who get no birthday parties because they’re simply just not here to have one.

I hope when we all come out of this pandemic, what I have had to learn prior will be more understood for us all; grief and joy can coexist. 

But, we must set the table for both. 

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