We’re planning Benjamin’s birthday party. He turns three on November 29th. He’s at the age where he can actually *tell* you when his birthday is. He can articulate all the presents he wants for his birthday. I mentioned to him that I had orders Yo Gabba Gabba and Wiggles balloons for his party. He remembers.
What a difference a year makes. Last year, he was vaguely aware of his birthday and understood that all the presents were for him. Alex was half grown in the womb, and I remember being excited and overwhelmed while planning the party last year. This year, things are calmer. Different.
Benjamin seems to recall so much information in general- it makes me wonder if there are any real memories of Alex still lurking inside him. He knows Baby Alex is in Heaven. Sometimes he will call Alex on the phone to say hello. Otherwise, Alex is really only mentioned when his picture is shown, or if we ask him a question like a pop quiz, “Who’s your baby brother?”
I thought there would be more sadness planning this birthday party because it’s just a reminder that Alex didn’t get a birthday party. It’s not all sad. While Alex isn’t here, Benjamin is. We need to celebrate life at every possible interval, and for us, that means a big birthday party. Again.
Alex is still a part of our lives. Benjamin will unwrap a present from Baby Alex for his birthday, and Alex is mentioned every night at prayer time. There are ways we still integrate him into life for Benjamin. Benjamin still uses a nuk at bedtime. (Please don’t judge.) We believe that the ripe old age of three is when he will no longer need it. We talk about it every night.
“Benjamin, what happens when you turn three?”
“ I don’t need a nuk anymore.”
“What are we going to do with it?”
“Mail it to Baby Alex.”
Maybe it’s weird to incorporate Alex into some of our folklore… ida know. There are no rules on this, so I will try to keep him present for Benjamin in as many ways as possible. Maybe it will get harder as Benjamin gets older, but for now, keeping Alex in the present seems like the best thing for our family.
In the meantime, there are favor bags to make, decorations to buy and presents to wrap. There is life and love in our house and we need to recognize the gifts of life all around us.