For Joseph on your 12th Birthday

Joseph,

Every year as I sit down to write your birthday letter, I feel a familiar sense of sadness that, not only has another year passed without you, but it still hasn’t gotten any easier. It often amazes me that I am still here, my broken heart still beating, that the world has kept on turning for all these years, without you in my arms.

I’ve been sat here all day, just staring at an empty screen, tears rolling down my face as the realisation hit that with every passing year I have far less to say than the last; that the words are so much harder to find knowing that it has all been said a thousand times over, that all of those memories are further away than they have ever been.

That you are further away than you have ever been. 

I found myself longing for just one more moment, for something new, a tiny snippet of information about your 12th year, something tangible to share, something more than all we have. I berated myself, for the millionth time, for forgetting so many of those wonderful memories throughout my pregnancy, when you kicked inside my belly, when our lives were filled with so much promise and joy; for failing to capture every single moment, never knowing that one day they would be all I had left.

And my heart broke, all over again, knowing that those 24 short hours we had with you will never be enough to last us through the years.

I’ll be honest with you, I very nearly closed my laptop and accepted there would be no more birthday letters to you, that I no longer had the ability to put into words just how huge our loss was, even after all this time. And then upstairs in the children’s bedroom I heard a commotion, the excited sound of your younger siblings, “Come quick! There’s something up here!!”

And there it was, a huge black creature on the window sill, crawling in from through the window, sat watching us as the children screamed in horror. “It’s just a moth!” I told them, as I tried to usher it out of the window, frustrated as it dodged my hand every time and refused to leave. Finally I captured it, with a cup and a sheet of paper, and I shuddered at how symbolic is was for a black moth to visit our house on the eve of your birthday – a symbol of death, a reminder of all we had lost.

As we took the moth outside and released it into the garden, it simply hopped onto the fence and sat there, just watching, just waiting. As we approached it, surrounding the moth with curious eyes, just inches away from our faces, it opened it’s wings to reveal the most beautiful colours I have ever seen. And we realised that far from a moth it was infact a butterfly – notorious for representing endurance, change, hope, and life.

And right then I knew that, although it may feel as though I have so little left of you to share, and although it may feel as though there is nothing more for me to say, you are so much more than those 24 hours we had together. For although I cannot share our memories of the last 12 years together, I can continue to share our story in a bid to help others, to know that, whilst I cannot change the outcome of our story, perhaps I can change the outcome for another baby, just like you.

Because the truth is, you are still right here, enfolded in the midst of our lives together, in the sound of the children’s laughter and the sparkle in their eyes, in our smiles and our tears, our good days and bad. You are there on Christmas mornings and through birthday wishes, on the special days and the ordinary moments, you are right there at the forefront of our minds and with every beat of our hearts. And I promise you that for as long as I live, I will continue to share your story, to talk about you, and smile about you, and endeavour to make you proud.

Just like that butterfly, I have needed every bit of endurance to survive the last 12 years, to accept the things I cannot change, to cling to the hope that I would find happiness again, to live a life I did not plan for, but a happy life all the same. And today when I needed a sign, when my heart hurts and my arms feel empty, you are still there, never more than  a whisper away, reminding me that, although life indeed goes on, I will carry you with me for always.

We have missed you with every heartbeat of the last 12 years. You are so loved, and so missed, by all of us.

Happy 12th Birthday Joseph, My favourite hello and my hardest goodbye.

Love you all of the stars in the sky xxxxxxx

 

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78 Comments

  1. Andrea
    July 19, 2018 / 7:14 pm

    happy birthday Joseph. It was such a beautiful letter you wrote to your son, it made me tear up. my mom often says that when people leave on from earth they are guiding us in the sky.

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      July 21, 2018 / 9:59 pm

      Thank you so much Andrea, that is such a lovely way of looking at it. xxx

  2. Ann Snook
    July 19, 2018 / 7:39 pm

    I can’t even begin to imagine what you are going through on this tough day. You wrote such a beautiful sentiment and are so strong!

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      July 21, 2018 / 9:59 pm

      Thank you so much Ann, much appreciated xxx

  3. Hannah Wood
    July 19, 2018 / 7:53 pm

    Written so beautifully all my love and hugs at this hard time and stay strong . all my love .x

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      July 21, 2018 / 9:59 pm

      Thank you so much Hannah xxx

  4. Ally
    July 19, 2018 / 8:27 pm

    This must be such a tough day for you. The letter was beautifully written, I can’t imagine going through what you are.

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      July 21, 2018 / 9:59 pm

      Thank you Ally xxx

  5. July 19, 2018 / 8:27 pm

    This is such a beautiful post. I just love that butterfly. I have no doubt that he is still around you.

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      July 21, 2018 / 10:00 pm

      Thank you Amber, it was just the sign I needed on a tough day. xxx

  6. July 19, 2018 / 8:50 pm

    This is so beautiful. I hope you never stop writing letters for Joseph on his birthday. My heart breaks for you as much as it swells from reading this. I love it so much.

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      July 21, 2018 / 10:00 pm

      Thank you so much Stacie, that means so much to me xx

  7. July 19, 2018 / 9:08 pm

    Oh my goodness. This is heartwarming. What a beautiful letter. So amazing to feel and see his presence. Love this

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      July 21, 2018 / 10:01 pm

      Thank you so much Brittany. xxx

  8. July 19, 2018 / 10:19 pm

    Sending you love on this very hard day. I never went through what you did so I cannot say “oh I know how you feel”. I am glad that you were reminded by what you thought was a month, but ended up being a butterfly of him. I think next year when you aren’t sure what to write, possibly you could update him on his siblings and what they are doing in their life. Possibly that will help ease the pain just a small amount. Once again I am sorry.

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      July 21, 2018 / 10:01 pm

      Thank you Becky, that is such a good idea – thank you xxx

  9. July 20, 2018 / 12:14 am

    Thank you so much for sharing and this is so gorgeously written. Beautiful photos to go with a beautiful family. God bless.

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      July 21, 2018 / 10:01 pm

      Thank you so much Melissa xx

  10. July 20, 2018 / 1:52 am

    I’m sorry about your Joseph, and I’m sure that these occasions are so hard for you. You loved him so much and he is still in your heart.

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      July 21, 2018 / 10:02 pm

      Thank you so much Marysa xx

  11. July 20, 2018 / 2:37 am

    This is beautiful. I can’t imagine what you’re going through. His spirit will live forever

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      July 21, 2018 / 10:02 pm

      Thank you so much, it really will xx

  12. Emma Riley
    July 20, 2018 / 3:59 am

    This is such a heartening and touching post. Loved the way you give time and effort to this very important day to you love ones. Happy 12th birthday Joseph with God.

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      July 21, 2018 / 10:03 pm

      Thank you so much Emma. xxx

  13. July 20, 2018 / 5:04 am

    Happy birthday Joseph, this is such a beautiful letter and I do think the butterfly coming was definitely a sign x

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      July 21, 2018 / 10:03 pm

      Thank you Rhian, me too. xx

  14. July 20, 2018 / 5:52 am

    Every day I see the comments from people, from strangers saying how you sharing your story has helped them through their own. You’re amazing for finding the strength to do it and to continue to it. I’m Sat here crying for my beautiful friend, knowing I can’t make it better, but knowing how proud I am of you and proud to have you as my friend. All your children are lucky to have you as their mum xxx

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      July 21, 2018 / 10:04 pm

      Ahh Laura, thank you so much my lovely lovely friend. You make the really hard days so much easier, love you lots. xxxxxx

  15. July 20, 2018 / 6:31 am

    Beautiful post and I love that you continue to still write your letters. Thinking of you at this time x

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      July 21, 2018 / 10:05 pm

      Thank you so much Hannah xxx

  16. July 20, 2018 / 6:45 am

    Oh my gosh – I can’t imagine the pain you felt. What an inspiring story about the moth / butterfly and how beautiful it looked. Hugs to you!

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      July 21, 2018 / 10:05 pm

      Thank you Shannon, it was the most beautiful butterfly I have ever seen! xx

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      July 21, 2018 / 10:05 pm

      Thank you so much Kaz xx

  17. July 20, 2018 / 2:13 pm

    Happy Birthday, Joseph, wherever you may be. It’s so nice that you were able to share a sign with your family during that eve of your birthday to let them know that they’re guided by an angel at all times.

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      July 21, 2018 / 10:06 pm

      Thank you Carol, yes that’s a huge comfort to us. xx

  18. Michelle Cantu
    July 20, 2018 / 2:23 pm

    Happy Birthday, Joseph. I’m so sorry for the pain you are enduring. I am a big lover of signs, it gives little hope in a very terrifying situation. I hope you can see all these beautiful signs every day in the little things and they help you to keep pushing through.

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      July 21, 2018 / 10:06 pm

      Thank you Michelle, it was a huge comfort to me that’s for sure. xxx

  19. July 20, 2018 / 3:12 pm

    Happy birthday Joseph. Sending your virtual hugs Laura. I can’t imagine what it must be like for you xx

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      July 21, 2018 / 10:06 pm

      Thank you so much xx

  20. Tonya Tardiff
    July 20, 2018 / 3:34 pm

    This is a beautiful post. I am so sorry for your loss. What an amazing tradition you have though. I am sure Joseph heard every word and is smiling down from heaven. <3

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      July 21, 2018 / 10:06 pm

      Ahh Tonya, thank you so much. xxx

  21. July 20, 2018 / 6:36 pm

    This is such a beautiful letter than you wrote. This day must be so hard each year. But I am sure he is still there with you.

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      July 21, 2018 / 10:07 pm

      Thank you, I really do hope so xxx

  22. July 20, 2018 / 6:42 pm

    Such beautiful, heartfelt words Laura. Sending lots of love x

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      July 21, 2018 / 10:07 pm

      Thank you so much Gail xxx

  23. July 20, 2018 / 7:53 pm

    He came as an angel to bless you and give you more strength. Sending you love, prayers, and strength to get through this painful part of life.

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      July 21, 2018 / 10:07 pm

      Thank you Sammi xx

  24. July 20, 2018 / 8:16 pm

    *Bigs hugs Mama* I know this takes a lot out of you and the loss is ever so fresh during certain times of the year. May you find peace in knowing your other children have one extra Angel look upon them. This tribute letter was beautiful and photos just stunning. Thank you for sharing and opening up your heart.

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      July 21, 2018 / 10:08 pm

      Thank you so much Nichole. He was a special little boy xxx

  25. July 20, 2018 / 9:46 pm

    Oh Laura, I just can’t imagine what you’ve been through. Sending you all the love in the world. xx

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      July 21, 2018 / 10:08 pm

      Thank you so much Emma, much appreciated xxx

  26. July 20, 2018 / 9:56 pm

    Sending love and hugs!!
    Beautifully written! Happy Birthday, Joseph! x

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      July 21, 2018 / 10:08 pm

      Thank you so much Kim xx

  27. Sammi
    July 21, 2018 / 1:34 am

    As a mom of a 1 year old littlw boy I absolutely love this! So sweet! Happy Birthday Joseph!

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      July 21, 2018 / 10:09 pm

      Thank you Sammi xx

  28. Julie
    July 21, 2018 / 2:24 am

    ?

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      July 21, 2018 / 10:09 pm

      xxxx

  29. July 21, 2018 / 2:25 am

    What a touching post! I’m very very sorry for your loss, while I know that you’ve probably heard that a million times. I really do feel sorry for you guys, from the bottom of my heart. I wish you all the happiness in the world. Happy birthday Joseph. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      July 21, 2018 / 10:09 pm

      Thank you so much for reading, much appreciated xxx

  30. Princess Quinn
    July 21, 2018 / 7:14 am

    It breaks my heart to be reminded of a lost child, I never held in my arms. I am actually in tears as I was writing this. What kept me moving on is the thought that I now have two beautiful kids that lightens up my day. And all the hopes I hoped for their sibling will continue with them.

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      July 21, 2018 / 10:09 pm

      I totally agree, these babies in our arms provide so much comfort. Lots of love xxx

  31. July 21, 2018 / 9:45 am

    I’m sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine the pain you must feel, especially on his birthday. Much love. And Happy Birthday to Joseph.

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      July 21, 2018 / 10:10 pm

      Thank you Emily xxx

  32. Elizabeth O
    July 21, 2018 / 2:03 pm

    I cannot begin to fathom the pain of losing a child, I am so sorry to read about your loss. Sending you love and prayers. Happy Birthday Joseph!

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      July 21, 2018 / 10:10 pm

      Thank you Elizabeth xxx

  33. July 21, 2018 / 2:25 pm

    Thank you for sharing such personal thoughts and feelings. I can’t imagine how this must feel each year, but glad you can find some peace in small things, like the visit from your butterfly.

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      July 21, 2018 / 10:10 pm

      Thank you Rachel, it was a huge comfort xx

  34. July 21, 2018 / 5:51 pm

    It must be very hard moment for you. So sorry to read about your loss. Just believe that Joseph is in the best place and always love you.

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      July 21, 2018 / 10:10 pm

      Thank you Melani xxx

  35. Dena McGuinness
    July 21, 2018 / 6:35 pm

    Such a brave post to share, today must be so hard for you. Thinking of you x

    • Laura Dove
      Author
      July 21, 2018 / 10:11 pm

      Thank you Dena xxx

  36. July 22, 2018 / 7:46 am

    Belated Happy birthday Joseph. Loved reading your post and the picture of the butterfly just looks awesome.

  37. July 22, 2018 / 8:30 am

    Happy birthday Joseph! The shots were good, especially the last image, it says it all.

  38. kim
    July 22, 2018 / 7:50 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss and can only imagine what you go through day-to-day. Thinking of you those and sending strength your way.

  39. July 23, 2018 / 6:57 am

    Such a heart- touching and beautiful read it is. Belated happy birthday to joseph. You are truly a strong woman 🙂

  40. July 23, 2018 / 12:06 pm

    Happy birthday wherever you are right now. Writing an annual letter is such a beautiful thing to do x

  41. Sue
    July 28, 2018 / 8:32 pm

    ?

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