On a Learning Curve

Life may not be easy, but it's always an adventure.

February 24


It comes every year at the same time: February 24. It’s a bittersweet day. This year it marks 13 years since I became a mother. It’s my boys’ birthday. Seth and Owen would turn 13 this year if they were still with us. Teenagers! That would make me the mother of two teenagers! (That must explain why I’m starting to sprout grey hair.)

But they aren’t here to celebrate with us this year or any year. Instead we have a tradition of sending them helium balloons. We write birthday greetings on the balloons and then–this is very environmentally unfriendly–we release them outside. We stand and watch the wind carry them off until they are too far for us to see any longer. Today was no exception. The girls wrote elaborate messages in Sharpie and then let their birthday wishes fly.


My babies didn’t live long enough for others to get to know them, but I knew them and loved every day we shared together: 23 weeks and 5 days. Ryan loved them, too, though he only held them once. The girls have come to know and love their brothers through asking an endless number of questions, most of which start with the words “What if….”

While we were in Norfolk last weekend, we stopped by the cemetery. The boys are buried together in the same row with their sister Lucy. The girls see nothing strange about cemeteries and understand the rules of a visit: Don’t step on markers and don’t move any of the graveside mementos that other parents have left.


H loves the sister she has yet to meet.

My eyes stayed mostly dry today–most likely because of the scar tissue on my heart. Instead, my heart has been heavy for another friend whose brother is losing his battle with leukemia. I’ve been missing someone else, too. Today is the birthday of a man who was like a second father to me and a substitute grandfather to my girls. I know that today Uncle Bill celebrated his birthday with Seth and Owen.

While those who loved Bill and Seth and Owen are feeling a little more lonely today, we look forward to the time when we’ll see them again. Whether my eyes are clear or clouded over with tears, I celebrate that there will come a day when my tears will be no more.


3 thoughts on “February 24

  1. When I think of Bill, Uncle Bill, I picture him playing his guitar, going fishing and doing woodworking projects. Hopefully Seth and Owen are interested in going fishing. Bill always thought you really get to know someone when you sit quietly in a boat in the middle of a lake.

  2. Laura – Absolutely beautiful piece. Thank you so much for sharing. Wish I lived closer to stop by and give you a hug. Sending you all hugs from afar. I love that you take the girls to the cemetery. I do think it’s important for kids to not be afraid of visiting the cemetery. Great job mom! I love the balloon’s too. All so heartwarming.

    Our daughter is in Texas and I hate that I can’t take the kids to visit her. I have a dear friend who visits her often for me and will pick up all around her site, bring her flowers and send pictures to us. In fact just as we were at the finish line of Ragnar…I was like ok, I’m really doing well – then a text came in from my friend. She sent me a picture of her site with flowers she brought her telling me she went to visit Kylee and tell her what I had done for her 13th Birthday last year. That is when the tears started flowing. I really was good the rest of the time. Happy tears. Thank goodness for sunglasses. 🙂

    Thank you Laura. Sending you much love & hugs. Beautiful. You are an amazing mom.

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