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Dear Mark

On your birthday, as we always do, we spent the day thinking of you, visiting some of your favorite places, and sending you the words that rest gently inside our hearts. We all miss you immensely, Mark. 

While it is said that time heals, as the days and years pass, the ache inside my heart grows deeper with the awareness that memories of you are slowly fading. Last night, your three little birds and I snuggled together in bed, talking about you and your upcoming heavenly birthday. Just two years old when we lost you, Cecilia has never recalled genuine memories of you, and it’s evident that this fact breaks her heart whenever she speaks of you. The rest of us have kept you alive in Cece’s heart through stories, photos, and videos but she has always yearned to remember you, like Lucia and Cooper do. However, on this occasion, your “Frucy Lucy” and “Coopydo,” ages five and six when you left this earth, shared what I feared would one day become a reality: that they recall less and less about you as time passes; that they, too, feel like they have very few truly authentic memories of you. This revelation was devastating in the moment. Our longing to remember your voice, your smell, your laugh, your hugs, was so palpable inside all of us that it bubbled up and filled the corners of our eyes, spilling down our cheeks all at once, as we clung to each other tightly, just like we did that night we first lost you.  

This, I suppose, is just another passage through the journey of grief. Before losing you, I understood grief to be more like a series of phases, checkpoints along a vast frontier of sadness, that you complete one by one, push through, and move on. However, the loss of you has taught me that there is no pushing through, there is no completion. Grief is something you continually endure, accept, and absorb. It becomes part of who you are and its symptoms resurface throughout your life in countless ways. Over time, grief can become softer, more distant, but just when you think you’re sailing smoothly, it can come crashing back, a giant wave of heartache, piercing your heart with unimaginable sadness. But if we make time to truly feel it, live in it, talk about it, reflect, and then move forward, grief can help us to become the best versions of ourselves. Change doesn’t happen when things are easy. Growth happens when we accept the challenges that were meant for us. Life is a perpetual dance of joy, sorrow, chaos and peace and we need to get comfortable with the messiness of it all. So, I’ve chosen to embrace grief as a journey of growth and reflection because I’ve learned that it lives in the place where there was once great love. Grief lasts forever, just like love does. 

So as time marches on without you, Mark, and the memories continue to grow more distant, I am comforted knowing we will never, ever forget how deeply we love you. Our love is eternal. The gifts you gave us are always within us and the light you brought to this world remains. I promise that we will never stop sharing your love and light with the world. Happy heavenly birthday, Mark. I hope we make you proud. ❤️

The morning after we lost Mark. My three little birds plus my darling nephew giving me strength.
Snuggling in bed after we lost Mark. Happiness can exist alongside sorrow. ❤️

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