Happy Birthday

I laid in her (Meagan’s) bed at bedtime and she asked me why we didn’t have a fun birthday party for me.  We did have cake, (thanks Aunt Denise!), but that was it.  No presents this year, no big hoopla… and for those of you who know me, I am all about birthdays.  She wanted to know why no one got me presents, why we didn’t even invite anyone over and have a fun time.  She just broke my heart.

The above paragraph was written by me, 7 years ago.  My son had just been diagnosed with brain cancer.  We had been in the hospital since April 21 and were discharged on April 29, for the first time.  This was one day before my birthday.  April 30 came and went that year.  I felt blessed to have my baby boy home with all of us, even if for just a short couple of days, but I was physically and emotionally spent from the roller coaster we were thrown on less than two weeks prior.  I didn’t have the energy to celebrate my birthday with all of the happenings surrounding us.  It seemed perfectly normal to me and my husband to just put it off for a while.  To my almost 4 year old, it was devastating.

I bring this up today because as I write this, my now almost 11 year old is in the kitchen baking me a birthday cake.  Why?  Because if she didn’t, I wouldn’t have one and to her this is still very important.  To me, it is extremely painful.  I try every year to be happy on my birthday and celebrate as best I can with my daughters and my husband, but I am drowning inside.  18 days after my birthday, my son died.  My birthday and Mother’s Day fell right in the middle of the storm.  These are not happy days for me.

I don’t want a party or presents.  I don’t want to go out to eat or have cake.  I just want to hold my baby again.  People say, “Time heals all wounds.”  People who say this have not lost their child.  People say, “It will get easier.”  People who say this have not lost their child.  People say I should celebrate my birthday.  People who say this do not realize that the memory etched into my mind and heart forever of my birthday is of my son with stitches across the back of his head.  It is of my son not being able to walk, talk or eat.  It is of my son confused and in pain on our first day home from the hospital.  This is my memory of my birthday.  Making a new memory is not possible.  This was my last birthday with my son and it is forever in my mind and heart.  It is a memory of me holding him and trying to console his pains.

My daughters will celebrate.  My husband will quietly treat me like a princess.  I will cry inside.  Happy birthday for me is anything but happy.  I will sit in my rocker and pray.  I will ask God once again Why?  Why did He take MY baby?  Why do I still feel the pain as raw as I did 7 years ago?  Why can’t I have a Happy Birthday?

I do not ask God these things out of anger.  No.  I ask because I am human and I hurt.  I ask because I don’t know and I feel pain.  I probably don’t want to know.  I know I don’t need to know, but I ask anyway.  I will turn to the good book and find some verses that will bring me comfort.  I will listen to God speak to me until I can clear my head and smile for my birthday cake.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me: thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”  Psalm 23:4

“Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”  Psalm 30:5

“The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those that are crushed in spirit. ”  Psalm 34:18

Just typing these verses out lifts my heart.  God is so good, in all circumstances.  For my birthday this year, I ask for prayers.  That is all.


55 thoughts on “Happy Birthday

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for sharing your heart! That helps me put my pain in perspective! I am definitely praying for you. What an amazing heart you have! So blessed to have met you!

  2. Marilyn says:

    Wow Erin, that is hard, not only losing your precious son but near your birthday. It is really ok to still ask God “Why”. When I get to heaven I’m sure would like to ask God, some Why’s?( not a word oh well ) People who have never lost a child do not understand but many also don’t know how to console you in your pain. I lost a son over 44 years ago and I still question “why”. God understands the question and the need for an answer. We as humans will never understand and will hurt. As you said cling to God and His Word, even what you will never understand He will give you strength to face the day. God is good in all circumstances even the ones we will never understand. I pray for you today and on your birthday that the God of comfort will sustain you and hold you up and give you strength for each tomorrow. God’s blessing and peace my friend. Even in the pain, know that God is with you. If you knew the reason, as human being, you still would not understand the reason why. Love you Erin. Thanks for always being an encourager to others. I still have shivers as I read this over again. Thanks for sharing something so personal.

    • emcuomo says:

      Thank you. Although the pain remains, my baby is not feeling it. That brings me comfort. And, God can ease it and he has. It comes in waves. And when I am down, I am lifted by so many wonderful people working for God!

  3. Stephanie Spears Watkinson says:

    Erin, My heart breaks for you. I get frustrated when someone has lost a loved one and people say that ‘it will get easier over time’. I may not have experience a huge lost like you, but it doesn’t get easier. As a pastor, I never tell anyone it will get easier. I remember when I was in school one of my instructors explain that our grief stays the same size, the difference is that we build a life around it. We will still feel the hurt and pain. I pray for you in this time of remembering and reflecting. The pain that you and your family has gone through, there are no words of mine that can help answer your questions or ease your pain. I pray that God in all his wisdom will reveal to you why this was part of his plan. I pray that God will reveal to you the joy of celebrating your birthday and Mother’s day. Stay close to Jesus and know that you are in many prayers. Love & prayers!

    • emcuomo says:

      I absolutely love the explanation of grief staying the same and building a life around it. It is so true! Thank you for sharing that. And thank you for your prayers.

    • Janet says:

      Thank you for sharing this perspective…..as a palliative/hospice nurse I love the way you have described grief and building life around it! How true this is!

    • emcuomo says:

      Thanks Nicki, for your prayers and thoughts. I try not to compare my pain. I don’t know how others are feeling and they do not know how I am feeling. When we hurt, regardless of the reason, it is not easy. However, it is very comforting to know that God is with me through it all. Amen!

  4. Heather Harlow says:

    I cannot wait for the next time we see one another. I have such love in the hug coming your way. I feel so blessed to be your sister in Christ, to be walking this journey with you. I am here, anytime during these few weeks, should you need a friend. I am praying for you, much love.

  5. Sandy Reeb says:

    Erin, thank you for sharing your heart, your struggle. I just want to give you a big hug!! What an incredibly hard road you’ve been on. I just went to a seminar this past weekend titled “Heaven.” The main speakers were Greg and Cathe Laurie (Harvest Ministries). They too lost a son a few years back, though he was older than yours. They both have struggled and grown in their faith in spite of and because of their heartbreak. Cathe shared a letter that a friend, Warren Wiersbe, had sent to them, to encourage them and I want to share it with you, hoping you too will be touched: As God’s children we live on promises not explanantions, and you know the promises as well as we do. When we arrive in Heaven we will hear the Explanations, accept them and say, “May the Lord be glorified.” Meanwhile, we continue to walk by faith, asking God to help us comfort others, lest our own tears be wasted. Your people will detect a new tone in your ministries, whether you sense it or not, and the Lord will accomplish unusual things. Trust Him. [We] shall be wrapping our arms around you as we pray for you. It takes time to digest grief, so be patient with yourselves and with the Lord. Jesus saves the best wine for last.

    • emcuomo says:

      Thank you Sandy – I agree with you that my grief and struggle is what is helping me to minister to others, most often when I do not even realize it. It does not make it easier when I am down, but it does make me realize that God’s plan is larger that I can imagine. Thank you for your prayers friend.

  6. Elizabeth Seeds says:

    Thank you so much for sharing Erin. It really broke my heart to read this. I am praying for you today/tonight. Let God fill you up and enjoy this special day! Everything happens in God’s perfect timing and with His will. Your son is in God’s hands and you will see him again soon! Be encouraged because God is sooo good!

    • emcuomo says:

      God is good and I do know that! I am encouraged by prayer and His word all the time. Thank you for your words. Joy comes in the morning!

  7. Janet says:

    My dearest cousin Erin…..
    Can I continue to say just how blessed you are as part of my life! God has given you the gift of sharing your heart so beautifully in words allowing others to feel just what you feel! My prayer for you is for peace, love and healing this…your birth day! ( I separated the words purposely!) I remember the announcement of your birth into our family……I remember how much my dad loved you….you were another daughter to him….He would be so proud of the woman you have grown into be…the family you have created….the fanatastic mother you are….the faith-filled follower of the Lord! Today….let the Lord fill your heart with love and comfort! Prayers for you dear Erin and thoughts from me to God of thankfulness and gratitude of giving me a cousin who continues to teach and minister to me whenever you write! Blessings on this day….the day God gave you to the world!

  8. Megan says:

    As a mother myself my heart aches for you. I pray you do find comfort in that your son is watching over you in heaven and is no longer in pain but with God! I am glad you are able to turn to God’s word and find some peace. Giving you a big huge!

  9. braebookster says:

    Wow Erin, that is so heartbreaking. When I was around 3 or 4 years old I lost my baby brother, Cody. He was born on December 23rd, and died the next day, on Christmas Eve. I can’t relate to you emotionally because I was so young. I only remember going to the hospital once but not being able to see him. I also remember his funeral like it was yesterday. I believe I only remember because I was sitting in between my mom and dad, and my dad was crying. Which is a very RARE thing to see! I know my mom can relate though. The next several years she spent many Christmas Eve’s and Christmas’s crying. She wasn’t saved when he passed away but when she did become saved, she was still sad but knew Cody was up with God living a much better life. You will be in my prayers Erin! 🙂

    • emcuomo says:

      Oh how my heart aches for your parents. How difficult it must have been and must still be for them to “celebrate” Christmas with such grief. ❤ Thank you for sharing with me your story. And thank you for your prayers.

  10. Kelley says:

    I can’t imagine the pain you feel because I have never lost a child. But I can tell you that as a sister in Christ with you, I pray that you will find comfort and peace in the Lord. He is always with you, and He knows the pain you feel. I love you in the Lord and pray you let His arms hold you tight and give you peace.

  11. Amy says:

    Erin – I prayed for you yesterday after reading this and will continue to keep you in my prayers. Let God continue to guide you and I pray you can feel the love from your family and friends this birthday.

  12. Donna Harris (OBS Small Group Leader) says:

    I have never been able to bear children so I will never be able to understand the pain you are going through. But my heart can truly grieve for you. I have no profound words to share with you, only that I am lifting you up to our Father so you can find comfort in His arms.

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