Tomorrow is Collins’ first birthday. There will be no smash cake. No family party. Not a single candle will be lit. We won’t gather around to sing an off-pitch birthday tune. But there will be smiles. There will be JOY. There will be a celebration. Together, Tien and I will celebrate HER. Celebrate her legacy. That her life matters. Celebrate that she is indeed a princess, in a kingdom far greater than described in any fairytale. We will celebrate, that because of Jesus, we will be able to spend an infinite number of birthdays with her.
Collins Grace was born on March 4th. As I said at her service, March 4th has always been my favorite date. It is the only date all year that gives you a directive-MARCH FORTH. It commands you to take action. Through this journey, Tien and I have clung to this phrase and used it as our mantra. No matter the obstacle, no matter the mountain, armed with our faith and the support of our loved ones, we have continued to march forth. We have stumbled. We have felt like giving up. But we know that she is in Heaven, shining her love on us, and rooting for us to prevail.
When your child passes, you think there are no more stories to share. You don’t get to show off pictures and tell about the funny (or frustrating) thing they did that day. You think their story ends. But then I realized her story does not have to end. Her story will carry on through us. And through those that knew her. Her story just takes a different route. And that is okay. I have thought long and hard about how I wanted to celebrate her first birthday. I wanted to do something that would honor her and share her story. I also wanted to do something that was sustainable. A tradition that will continue with each birthday. That we can include our future children in.
We have always said she was the sunshine of our lives. Through this process, I have learned that on some days you just have to create your own sunshine. I have also learned that it is hard to be sad when doing something nice for someone else. From those two lessons an idea was born. So on her birthday, Tien and I will take the day off work and spend the entire day spreading sunshine by completing random acts of kindness. We will be sending sunshine cards in the mail, leaving sunshine packages on doorsteps, and dropping off cookies to several locations and individuals that have supported us along our journey. After each act, we will leave a card that encourages the recipient to pay it forward. ( Disclaimer: We aren’t looking for donations, and everything we spend is out of our own pockets) We just want people to know her name. To continue her story. And to bring a little sunshine to others along the way.
So on this day, I encourage all of you to spread a little sunshine. Hug your babies tight. Be present. Seize the day. Laugh lots. Choose joy. Count your blessings. March forth.
If you would like to leave this card behind, please feel free to print off a copy.