It's always hard knowing how to celebrate the birthday of someone who isn't with you. I worry about doing too much or too little, never really knowing where to draw the line or even knowing what feels right for us. But birthdays come and we roll with them.
Case would be 3 years old today. If he were with us, we would have had a big birthday party yesterday. It's impossible to know what he'd be in to, but after some googling on boy's 3rd birthday party themes, I thought a race car theme was pretty cute. If you know me, you know I go all out for birthday parties. I love a good theme and I love making things like the invitations, a birthday shirt, cake, and decorations. But again, how much is too much? Why make a card when no one is going to come? So instead of a "card", I decide to make my facebook cover photo into a card for him every year. This year was a vintage race car.
I absolutely loved the look of the banner and the car. I imagine most of our decor would be in these colors and that little car... so perfect even down to the #3!
The cake was the next big thing. His first birthday, I just made a basic cake. His second birthday, a close friend brought a cake for us which was just beyond sweet. But this year, with a theme in mind, I decided to make him a cake. I spend a lot of time on the cakes I make for my other children's birthdays so it was kind of nice to do the same for him.
Our oldest actually made the cake herself. I baked it and decorated it, and my husband crunched up the oreos for the road. He also helped me figure out how to pour the oreos on without making a huge mess of everything! A 3-shaped race track with 3 cars... <3
One other thing that was new this year was I got him a present. I wasn't sure about doing that... what do you get for someone that you know will literally never use it? But then again, my SON is turning 3. How can I not get him a birthday present? But what could I get?
One thing that's happened this year is I've seen a lot of construction vehicles, specifically Case brand. Seeing them always put a smile on my face so I knew that was what I needed to get for him. At 3 years old, Case now has his first birthday present. I am going to put it in my craft cabinet to display, and I have a feeling I'll be getting him a new piece for the collection every year.
His big sister is old enough now that she understands this day is special to us and really misses her brother. On Tuesday, 5 days before his birthday, she decided to make him a card. My heart melted. She made a book for him this morning but I did not take any pictures of it. She makes me smile through my sadness.
We decided to make this day as normal as possible, basically making it a day like it would have been if he were here. We went to church this morning and I broke down into tears a few times. It's hard knowing what today could have been instead of what it is. He would have been running around to all of our church friends saying, "It's my birthday! I'm 3!!!"
After church, we came home to pack a lunch and went to the lake to have a family picnic. It was an absolutely gorgeous day. We brought his sweet little bear with us which helped me feel a little more connected to him.
After our picnic, we had been invited to a group barbecue and I wasn't sure if I'd be emotionally able to attend, but I was holding up a lot better than I expected to be. We decided to go and it was really nice. Other people there acknowledged him and the event helped me keep my mind preoccupied.
When we got home, I saw our glass door was slightly opened and I told my husband that either the B family or the J family had left something for us for his birthday. And actually, BOTH of them had! It's hard to have your kid's birthday celebrated alone, but how can you invite others to take part in the sadness? Having friends that know and still want to show you they care is the most amazing feeling. We received 3 balloons and two flower arrangements. Case's little bear is posing with the gifts.
Case's 3rd birthday was the first one that I felt we were truly able to celebrate even through the sadness. We sang him happy birthday, ate a little bit of his cake, and opened his gift for him. His big sister explained to him what his gifts were and what you do with them.
It is impossible to believe that 3 years have passed since we first got to meet this sweet little boy. I am eternally grateful for the 10 days we were given to love on him, but I will always wish we had more.
Love you, sweet Case.