Happy Birthday Ethan.

My Ethan,

Happy 11th Birthday. I miss you. I miss you everyday, but your birthday, well it’s a day where the pain of missing you feels deeper. I remember like yesterday the day of your birth, the anticipation, the worry, the excitement. You arrived and our world changed. Who we wanted to be changed. What we wanted to accomplish changed. What we cared about, valued, believed all changed when you arrived. I’m so glad it did.

On your birthday it’s very easy for me to get stuck in the wonder of what you’d be like at 11. Today Blake asked me what you would want for your birthday and what you’d be like. In tears I said that I really don’t know. I imagine you would have grown in your love for music. I imagine you would ask for the latest Apple device and I’m sure you would have found some other electronic gadgets to add to your list. I imagine you would have made your way to several Jack Johnson concerts. I imagine you’d have lots of friends and you’d constantly be making people laugh. I imagine so many different scenarios, even one where you were born with a healthy heart.

Your arrival into my life, into our family was and is the most transformational gift. You gave us many gifts, but the greatest one is you taught us to love deeper and wider and bigger than we ever would have. Because of you Ethan, our lives are expansive. We’ve met the most incredible people, the most dedicated nurses and doctors, the most beautiful children. The intricacies of our experiences I could have never imagined. You taught me to swing open my chest and just love. You taught me to accept what comes. To take it in and to own it. You showed me it’s worthy to expend myself, to sacrifice, to give my all to someone. You knocked on the door of my heart and I let you in. I jumped in and gave you my whole heart. You and I are soul mates. From the very beginning we had a connection, a bond that felt centuries old. You showed me a love deeper than the deepest oceans, a love that survives death, a love that extends to eternity. A love that never, never, never ends.

You’ve taught me that I’m here on this earth for a purpose. That my time here really matters. Your life and your struggle gave me purpose and focus. A razor sharp clarity. You taught me it’s a short life, so I better get busy. Busy loving people, busy changing things that don’t seem quite right. Busy being me. The me God created me to be.

You wrecked my beliefs, you challenged me to rethink and ultimately rediscover the vast, deep, wide love of God. A love that meets us in our darkest places. A love that spans life and death. A love that ignites in us the fire of purpose. A love that cannot be contained by our human minds.  Your life and your death are slowly reacquainting me with the gift of prayer.

Because of you and all the adventures you took me on, I have a head start with your brother Bodey. You share the same physical therapist, the same cardiologist, the same feeding team, the same optometrist and ophthalmologist. Thank you for training me in caring for him. It feels daunting lately, but I know it’s purposeful. And so I’ll gladly learn and be shaped by Bodey as I was you.

While I wish it all to be different, I’m not sure it was ever going to be. And so your life breathes life into so many other people. And the dance continues. You see that’s what it is, when we love deeply, fully and purposefully we get to breathe life into others. We get to pour into them gifts so that they can then give to others. You have shown me this… my love for you propels gifts into others’ lives. And on and on. Thank you for choosing me to be that vessel.

When I set up the Ethan Lindberg Foundation apartment last November, I was an emotional wreck. Mostly because as I was putting furniture together and washing sheets I knew none of it would be happening had you lived.  None of it. That sobering realization was almost more than I could handle. I wanted to trade it in. I wanted to give it all back. I negotiated that trade in my mind.  But I can’t. And so this side of Heaven, help me. Help me to keep loving people. Help me to be firm in my resolve. Help me to live my best life in this bodysuit of mine. Help me to run this race. Help me to be all that I’m created to be.

Some days when the tears are plentiful, I cry because I miss you more than there are words to articulate. But I also cry because I am humbled. So humbled and so honored to be your mom. Out of all the moms, you chose me. I get to ride this crazy, beautiful, messy, hard, exhilarating journey because you chose me. I choose the pain, I choose the heartache a million times over, because I choose you. Every day. I will choose you every day for the rest of my life. And when I’ve completed my work, I will see you my sweet boy. In the meantime, we have work to do. So let’s do it. Let’s keep loving people, let’s keep discovering God’s gracious grace that props us up on this journey called life.

Eleven years of being your mom, Ethan. I can’t wait to see what adventures you take me on this year. You are my special boy, I am so proud of you and I love you. Thank you for teaching me how to love people and how to be loved.

Happy Birthday beautiful Ethan. Happy Birthday.  

Love, Mom