For the entire month of August, I’ve felt anxious about Finn’s birthday. Last year’s was so over the top with a huge balloon release with family and friends and then surprising the hospital staff at the children's hospital, that I didn’t know how to follow that. Not to mention, his first heavenly birthday was less than a month after he went to heaven, so we were still in a complete state of shock and that shock helps buffer the pain a bit. This year, most of the shock has worn off, and the buffer from the pain is gone. Covid obviously complicated having a huge celebration this year, and so after a lot of thought, I considered what Finn would want, and we decided to have a day of just us doing all the things he enjoyed.
1. Eating watermelon
2. Eating animal crackers (and yes, most the things he enjoyed involved eating)
3. Eating chicken ‘paghetti
4. Going for a walk
5. Splashing in his pool
6. Watching his favorite movie Sing
I prayed the night before that as we were doing Finn's favorite things on earth, he would also be doing them in Heaven. Together but separate.
August 22, 2020
Because of Austin’s work schedule, he sleeps until lunch, so my mom came over to keep me company in the morning. My mom watched Finley while I got ready for the day. On the day of Finn’s funeral, one of the few memories I have is coming out of our bedroom after Jess did my makeup (doing anything myself that day was near impossible), and Austin looked at me and said, “You look pretty for Bubby.” So on Bubby’s birthday, I wanted to look pretty for him again.
After I finished getting ready, I had to get a very fussy Finley to sleep. This past week she has become quite the cranky little girl, which has been a welcomed distraction from the pain of Finn’s birthday.
My mom and I then painted rocks. Another angel mama I have been so blessed to meet through social media, suggested this and it was such a nice creative outlet to express our love for Finn. And a tradition I hope to continue each year. As we painted, I told my mom how I thought Momo would have loved this and how I can imagine them painting rocks in heaven. We laughed at that sweet sight. When Finley woke, she participated too and made her own watermelon themed rock for Finn. She’s quite the artist.
We have a little spot in our front flower bed with a few memorial rocks for Finn, so these 3 were added to the collection. By no coincidence Finn’s birthday also falls on National Rainbow Baby day, which was one of the first signs I got from Finn that we should and would have a rainbow, our Finley girl.
Many verses have gotten me through each season of grief, the one that comes to mind every time I look at our beautiful girl is Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
After Finn first went to Heaven, I didn’t know what our hope and future looked like, but now I do, it looks like Finley Blake on earth and Finn Benton in Heaven. I'm so thankful to have hope for both the here and there.
Prior to Finley entering the world, Austin and I visited Finn every Sunday. Austin promised Finn he would and has held true to that promise. For me, I have never felt very connected with his resting place, so visiting has always been something that is most important to Austin. Apart from her looks, Finley has proven to be very different from her big brother, and one of their differences is her strong aversion to car rides. Because of this, I have not been going to see Finn every Sunday. There is so much guilt associated with that, but Finley and I are taking the time that Austin goes each Sunday to spend time in Finn's room and trying to incorporate a new, Finn-centered routine to the day.
It was never a question that we would visit Finn on his birthday as a family. I planned it around nap time in hopes that she would nap the entire time. I rocked her to sleep in her stroller/carseat before we left and the ride there was easy. When we arrived, we each took turns talking to Finn, and then I brought Finley, who had woken up, out briefly to wish brother a happy birthday too. And then the car ride home happened. Finley had a complete meltdown. We pulled over 2x to try to settle her. She was screaming so hard she threw up. Her face was red and tortured, putting me right back to our final night with big brother. I was useless when it came to settling her, and Austin and I switched spots. He settled her and I drove the rest of the way home. The best dada to both of his babies. He continues to amaze me.
Our little family went to Finn's room and lit his birthday cupcakes and sang to him. His cupcakes were strawberry because it's the only type of cake he ever got to enjoy. His Momo had brought strawberry cupcakes one Sunday and before I could say no, she had handed it to him and he was digging in. I imagine that's the kind they were enjoying in Heaven too. I topped them with his favorite, animal crackers. I think he would have gotten a little giggle out of them. They weren't fancy, but they were very Finn.
When we arrived back home and Finley had her afternoon nap, we decided we didn't have time to blow up Finn's pool and opted to walk to the splashpad in our neighborhood instead. On our walk to the splash pad, I saw bubbles coming up from a neighbors backyard, a sweet hello from our bubble loving boy. Unfortunately, the splashpad wasn't working, but I don't mind that, that means that place, is still just Finn's place. We got Finley out and held her as we told her all about our day with Finn at the splashpad.
On our way home, Finley did her best to remind us she is not her brother, and she decided her dad’s arms would be far more comfy than the stroller.
Austin and I enjoyed chicken spaghetti and a few bites of watermelon to end the night. The day was emotionally exhausting. We both shed more tears than we have in a while. We didn't even get one special birthday with Finn, we wept for the moments lost and the future gone. We wept for what should be. We wept for the lack of knowledge of who he'd be and for the moments that we were robbed of. But we also rejoiced in the moments shared. We will always, always be thankful we had him, because he is and always will be worth the lifetime of pain we must endure being apart from him.
We decided that we would wait on watching Sing, that'll be a special moment we might share with Finley when she is more aware. But for now, just like the splashpad, Finn alone holds those special memories in our hearts.
Outpouring of Love
I have said it a million times, but I am continuously amazed by the love shown for us and Finn. I spent my time, while Finley slept, reading messages, acts of kindness, and birthday love for our little boy. There is no doubt in my mind that all of you, who continue to love on us and remember our little boy, are messengers of Finn's love for us, and God's too. Finn is such a special boy, and the way he has been loved even in his passing is proof of that. Somehow his short life has had the power to impact so many. So many of you messaged me how you think of him daily, how he has changed how you parent and how you live, and last night, I went to bed with such gratitude. Because that little boy who you all love and remember, that little boy is ours. How blessed are we to get to call Finn Benton our baby boy, forever. It's a blessing I will never feel I deserve, but I will cherish for the rest of my days. So thank you, thank you for allowing our Finn Benton to make such a deep and lasting impression on your life and reminding me of just how incredibly blessed we are to call him ours.