Ava's 1st Birthday! It came around way to fast but at the same time it felt so long ago that Ava entered our world and was born into heaven.
Your daughters 1st birthday is usually a time for celebration. Not having your daughter with you blowing out her candle is a very unnatural feeling and one I wouldn't wish on anyone. I can hardly describe the feeling except to say it is a deep pain that hurts emotionally but cuts so deep physically too. As desperately sad as I felt, I also couldn't help but feel a bit of joy and gratitude that I had the opportunity to hold Ava, that I had the opportunity to kiss her tiny lips and count each toe! Knowing her for just an instant is to me worth celebrating.
Now I am past the milestone of her birthday I look back in hindsight and can see the the few days prior to her birthday were far more painful and produced far more tears than the actual day itself which I have heard is quite common among bereaved parents.
I am very blessed to be a mummy so the day started off with myself volunteering in my daughters classroom with reading groups. I told myself that I am a mummy to two daughters and a son so I really felt that it was important that I be there being a mummy for Ella just as I wanted desperately to be the same mummy for Ava and I will never get the chance to help in Ava's classroom.
I came home to my husband and son and then we packed the car with all of the donations that the volunteers from Ava Grace No Footprint Too Small had made over the last few months. I met my friend Natasha (who also lost her son Elijah) last year at the hospital and we delivered the huge boxes to the antenatal ward. We set up the morning tea (thanks to my friends who cooked for it, in particular Natasha who made special cupcakes (her son Levi was sadly born at Nepean too way too early) the staffroom and had such a lovely time chatting about Ava Grace No Footprint Too Small and everything the volunteers have been making and we also spoke about Ava (and Natasha's Elijah). It was lovely speaking the the midwives who make such a big impacting the lives of families birthing babies they will never get to take home from hospital.
After this we left and came home and when Ella came home from school we did our balloon release - 1 balloon from each of us. We saved one of Natasha's beautiful cupcakes and we sing happy birthday to Ava and the kids blew her candle out. The kids wanted to go out to dinner for her birthday as we often do for all of our birthdays so why would we do any different for their littlest sister? I can't say it was the happiest dinner as I forced food down my throat that had a huge lump in it feeling the tears falling on my insides but I did try. I am very fortunate to have living children who can make painful and at times seemingly impossible situations bearable just by their smiles, enthusiasm, love and hugs.
At the end of the night we lit a special candle that another dear friend (Shannon who is Benjamin's mummy and Ava's friend in heaven) had given me for Ava's first birthday along with our other Bears of Hope Candles.
It was lovely to receive cards and presents and text messages from close friends and families who acknowledged Ava's birthday and what this day meant for us. I can tell you that the acknowledgment of Ava's life is the single most important thing to me when it comes to Ava and all that had happened.
Thankyou to those who honoured Ava's life on her 1st birthday through our fundraiser for Heartfelt Photographers. We really appreciate your help in funding this great cause.
Ava Grace Johnson 16.3.15
Forget loved, forever missed.