My sweet, sweet Caleb,
Daddy, Caden and I want to wish you Happy Birthday, darling. Today, you would have been six years old. But, I really don't feel like celebrating today. It's your first birthday away from us and we all miss you terribly. Honestly, I'm really having difficulty just writing to you today.
This seems to be an extremely emotional week for me. We found out at the end of last week that one of your football coaches (Coach Matt) had been killed by a drunk driver. That was difficult to handle. I guess if there is anything that can be said about a terminal illness is that you have the time to say goodbye to your loved ones. I feel so bad for his family. They didn't get that opportunity like we did.
I have also read about several children with DIPG that earned their angel wings this week. It is so heartbreaking for everyone involved. It seems Heaven is filling up with little children who have fought this horrible disease. I hope you are doing your part to welcome these little ones into Heaven. You always made friends so very easily. I desperately wish we could find a cure so no more families have to suffer.
On that note, September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month. On of the people on the Facebook DIPG site helped edit a picture of you to help spread the word. I agonized over what picture to use. It seems a lot of pictures used for childhood cancer awareness show bald, smiling children. I wanted people to see that it has a very real downside as well. I chose a picture I took of you just hours before you died. I'm not even sure if you were aware of what was going on around you that day, but that picture shows the reality of childhood cancer.
Thursday night was "meet the teacher" night at the schools. I kept seeing all the updates on Facebook and thought, "We should be there, too." You should have been starting school next week with the other kids. Of course, with as much as you missed last year, we probably would have had you repeat kindergarten. Then again, if that stupid tumor hadn't been there, you'd be entering first grade on Monday. I think I'm going to stay off Facebook for the first couple days of next week. I'm not sure I can handle reading all the fun posts of the first day of school. The world around us goes on while our lives are torn to pieces. It's difficult to be happy for others at the moment, but I keep trying.
It was right around this time last year that we started noticing things were a bit off with you. But they were so subtle that it was easy to just dismiss it as normal reactions to all the changes going on at the time. I honestly thought your headaches were no big deal. Since I have had so many migraines over the years, I really believed you were just copying me because you heard me talk about headaches so much, or you were just trying to get a little more attention (that whole "jealous of my little brother" thing). I'm sorry I didn't believe you were really hurting. When I realized how serious the headaches were, I'm ashamed of how I acted. But you always forgave me. Even as the tumor progressed, you never really complained about your head hurting. I remember asking you if it hurt. You would tell me no, but later in the day it would get really bad and you would say it had been hurting all day. It was just finally at a point that you couldn't stand the pain any longer. I wonder if you told me no because you didn't think I would believe you. If that was the case, I am so sorry. I never meant to cause you any additional pain. I'm sorry you had to go through that.
I'm making a pineapple upside down cake (your favorite) to honor you. We're also sending you some balloons for your birthday. I hope you like them. We chose every color of the rainbow and 5 gold balloons. I know it's "technically" your 6th birthday, but you are forever 5, so that is how many we'll send you every year.
I hope you know how very much we love you. You were truly our miracle child and we are so blessed to have gotten the time we had with you. I am comforted to know that we will see each other again. I wish it could be now, but I know that it is in God's perfect will and timing.
You are always in my heart and I love you to infinity and beyond.