I’m sorry that this letter is late. I’ve been writing you kids letters for years now and this one has taken a lot of prayer, contemplation, and there were a lot of emotions to untangle. The first 11 months of this year were incredible. Watching you learn and grow is one of my favorite things in life. Seeing you adapt and form who you are, building our relationship and knowing that we learn from each other. We had a full year with many amazing memories, I also know that all of those amazing memories are clouded over for you right now. The last month of being 13 will undoubtedly be what you remember the most. Losing Theo is the greatest pain you have ever felt, this loss is powerful.
Being your mother has afforded me the honor of seeing you become a caring, loving, giving, and intelligent young woman. I understand the pain in your heart. I also know that Theo will forever be a part of who you are. He will always be part of our family. Even in our pain we can honor his short and incredible life. As your Mom it’s my job to guide you and teach you about life, how to navigate it. Death was not something I was prepared for, grief like this was not part of our parenting plan. Your Dad and I have made it our mission to spare you from as much of the pain and hardships we experienced growing up as we can. It has been our mission to ensure that you are a kid as long as possible. We could not have known or protected you from the pain of losing someone you love so dearly. I’ve never seen a 13 year old love an infant as much as you love your cousin.
As I prayed over this Birthday Letter I felt God was telling me to fan the haze that has settled on our memories of this year. This year wasn’t made of grief. This year was powerful, a building block in your life as you come closer to adulthood. In this time of grief, at the beginning of you turning 14, I want to remind you of some of the brighter spots of this year. Some of them include Theo and I know that will be painful and hard, but some day they will bring you comfort too. They remind us he is real, he was part of our daily life, he is a part of building who you are.
In January you kids showed me how deep your love goes for me with a wonderful bathroom mirror surprise that stayed there for months. That made my day for many days.February you helped me surprise your brother with Marvel bedding, keeping him busy while I finished cleaning and getting everything ready for him. The look on his face says it all. March we adopted Coco from the Dawson’s. She was able to spend the rest of her doggie life with us, she loved to sleep in your room and snuggle. She was an amazing very old dog. There is no doubt that you helped make her last few months very happy ones. That month you also made your brother feel like a million bucks when you fell asleep with your head in his lap. That’s a big deal for a 5 year old.
In June we discovered SnapChat and have been ridiculous with it ever since. Making a lot of funny memories; especially while watching X-Files in my bed. Katrina also followed in your footsteps and became a crossing guard at school.You inspire her to be more, to do more, to learn more. I love that about you. June we also celebrated Katrina’s Birthday at the drive in. You and your siblings decorated and set up the van super special for her. Aunt Tori, Aunt Jessica, Theo and all of you kids made it a special birthday for her to remember for a long time…especially with us all playing Chubby Bunny.Also in June you got up super early to cheer Katrina and I on as we ran a 5k together. Your cheers meant so much to her, knowing that her biggest sister was there urging her to keep going. Running isn’t your thing, but you didn’t let that hold you back from being a high-fiving, wooooo screaming, jumping up and down cheerleader. She told me how much that meant to her. We also had paint shenanigans at the drive in that month. You and your siblings let me paint your faces for Civil War. That is always a time that brings a smile to my face. I’m realizing June was a busy month! We also went on a hike with Tyler the day before our first camping trip of the season! Our first camping trip we went to Alder Lake near Mt. Rainier. We spent 2 wonderful
nights and 3 days just you kids and me.We drove up and all over Mt. Rainier, went on hikes, took pictures of Rainier on Mt. Rainier, swam at the Lake, made amazing food, did devotionals and learned what works best for us as campers. We jammed out to music on the long drive to and from, dancing and singing our hearts out.
July was another crazy full month of activity. We went on an 11 mile hike up the Dungeness Spit with Uncle Tom, Aunt Jessica, Aunt Tori and Theo. It was a beautiful day of listening to the ocean and playing in the water, just being together. We
also celebrated Theo’s birthday. While I know this is a hard memory it is also an awesome one. One of funny pictures, gifts, and DIY ice cream. And who could forget Uncle Brent accidentally giving Kenny bubbles to drink because he thought it was the punch?! Theo had a wonderful 1st Birthday full of the people who love him.
Then there was more camping for my birthday, this time we went to the beach. Camping with you is so much fun. You are my great helper with set up, take down, the food prep with the littles, potty runs and helping with the dog. I love teaching you about camping and how to do things for yourself. This is the trip that I became sleep deprived and delusional, and began the ‘Doughnutbutt’ joke. That joke is still going and will probably be a camping staple for years to come.We also had matching swim tops. One of my favorite things is that you wanted to match me. Having your teenage daughter love having a matching bathing suit is special, it’s humbling and encouraging at the same time. I love how special our relationship is.
At the beginning of August we went on another camping trip. It wasn’t the best camp site, it wasn’t the best weather. I will never forget how soaking wet we all were just trying to get into the tent during the down pour that lasted for hours! But we laughed the whole time. The rain was so loud we had to shout to hear each other, you, Kay and I stayed up watching GMM on our phones and laughing. We made the most of it and the weather was much better the rest of the trip. It was another gorgeous ocean view with lots of beach combing. We had one last camping trip at the end of August, we left the dog at home took the bikes Dad and I bought you and Uncle Tom and I built. We headed to Sequim and after a ride we were ‘camp bombed’ by Nana and Papa who were out that way on a ride. You guys wanted to stay for the whole trip and to make that happen, woke up at 615 and were packed up and ready to leave by 630am so I could make it home and to work by 9am. It was a proud and amazed, what an example of family teamwork. Toward the end of August your newest cousin, Paxton, was born. 2 days before we left on our Super Secret Family Vacation. Paxton was just in time! He’s an adorable little fluff head. The very end of August brought in our amazing, long-awaited, and super secret vacation to Disneyland and Universal Hollywood. All of us with Uncle Tom, Aunt Jessica and Theo. I know I don’t have to tell you how special that trip ended up being. At the time we had no way of knowing what was going to happen when we returned home. That vacation was flawless, no arguing (at least very little), perfect weather, shortish lines, amazing food, and we all lived under one roof together. A big, very beautiful and loving happy family. I couldn’t have imagined it was going to be that smooth and wonderful. It truly was a magical 2 weeks. The night you and Kaylynne watched Theo for dinner ended up being just as important to you two, if not more so. As hard as that night is to remember, I’m so glad you had that opportunity.
We had an amazing year of growing and learning together. With Dad traveling for work so much it’s been a special time of bonding and loving one another.I’m so blessed to have you for a daughter. You are a light in the dark. My prayer for this year is that you are able to walk through your grief with grace, love, understanding and strength. I pray you will be shown the beauty in life and what we were given for so short of a time. I pray you will not lose faith, that your faith will be made stronger. I pray you will let this experience help shape who you are, but not let it become who you are. I wish with everything in me that I could take the pain from you, my daughter if I could, you would never feel pain. I’m proud to be your mother, I pray that you remember that and you will hold your family closer and a little tighter. I hope you will always love with everything you have.I pray for healing, comfort, and peace of mind and heart. I will always be here for you, always praying for you. I love you my Krystal. Love, Mom