Tonight, we took a family trip to the cemetery. We lit a candle, sang Happy Birthday and ate a small slice of cake. Who does this sort of thing? It sounds ridiculous! Balloons, cake, candle, Happy Birthday songs, in a cemetery. Except thats exactly what it was. Jake was the first to jump out and I captured this moment below before any of us got to the place Steven was laid to rest. It was the golden hour and our innocent and carefree boys were running through the cemetery. I sat with Travis, my now husband, at my late husbands marker. (Yep, I just said that in a sentence) Stevens picture beaming a smile up at us. As Jake showed his stubborn attitude and stomped off because I wouldn't let him keep the rocks that he claimed to be Iron off the marker next to Steven, I declaired he gets that from his Dad Steven. Travis quickly laughed and stuck up for Steven and said, "No man, I won't let you take the fall for that one. I know that's all Erin." This is what my life has become. It's very hard to wrap my brain around it all and acknowledge that this is my reality. Yet, as strange as this reality is, I feel blessed.
We chose to celebrate Stevens birthday a day early and some of you may know why. This is the 4th year that the boys and I have gone to the cemetery with a piece of cake and balloons. We typically bring it all and leave quickly since all the boys want to do is run around and play with other items left by those who grieve. But today, I found myself slightly more relaxed and at ease. The anxiety I typically feel when at the cemetery seemed to be much less than before.
Earlier today, I walked into Von's with Trenton and looked for balloons already blown up to grab, purchase and leave, along with a small slice of cake. Of course, when I needed them for a crappy reason, there were NONE. I walked through the floral area avoiding the lady behind the counter until I realized that I didn't have an option. I pushed my cart over and asked the lady for a mylar birthday balloon. She asks if it was for a girl or a boy. I said a boy and any balloon would be ok, I just wanted it and I wanted to leave. She then pointed out all of the balloons hanging on the wall and I quickly picked number 4. I can feel my anxiety rising and the pressure behind my eyes start to build. She then offered a balloon bundle with 5 latex balloons. I said I actually just needed 3 latex balloons to go with it. Thanks. She then proceeded to say that the bundle with 5 would actually be cheaper. No, no thanks, I just want my 3 latex balloons and 1 boy mylar balloon and I want to leave. Price doesn't matter right about now! Polite Erin, be polite, she doesn't know that any mention of what these were for could lead me into a tail spin of emotions and grief. Keep it together, you've got this. As she's blowing up the balloons and curling the strings, I just want to scream that she doesn't need to curl it and make it nice because its going to the cemetery and then my 2 little boys are going to send them to heaven for their Dad. But I don't. She talks to Trenton while she curls the ribbon. I take them, give a forced smile, and rush to the check out counter. The guy in front of us in line then wants to talk about the balloons and who's birthday it is. I quickly nod my head and get distracted with Trenton yanking on the perfectly curled orange ribbons hanging from the balloons and getting them tangled in a knot, which I didn't care about either. Steven was not going to be looking at them. As I walk to the car, I walk with my head down, pushing down the feelings and emotions of what these balloons and slice of cake really mean. 5th birthday without him and it doesn't get any easier.
We celebrate Stevens birthday a day early because as many of you may know, Steven, Travis and my Dad share a birthday. September 25th. What are the chances, right?! We celebrate Travis and my Dad physically on September 25th as we choose to celebrate life, the here and now, also knowing Steven is never far from our minds. I know he'd be okay with that too.
The fact that Travis goes with us to the cemetery is a small part of the amazing man that he is. He sang Happy Birthday with us, stood back while we talked and shared stories, and then he captured this moment...
A moment that us unbelievably surreal and hard to wrap my brain around. It's as if these two have a weird connection. It's as if they have a plan. It's as if they know one another without ever having met. The idea that these two are in a picture together is very, very inconceivable. After Travis took the picture, we quickly looked away. This little man whom has brought so much light into all 4 of our lives, is here because Steven is not. He laughs and he scream and he dances and loves. He is the sweetest creation ever. He adores his brothers who also absolutely adore him. He has tied us all together in a crazy way, and tonight, all 6 of us, celebrated life. I knew without a doubt Steven was celebrating with us too.
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