The First Birthday

1:46:00 PM

From my Thomas diary:

25th July 2000
Already I am starting to dread Thomas’ birthday. It is coming around too quickly and I am not nearly ready enough to face it. I want to finish his cross stitch and have it framed by his birthday. Also, I want to have his headstone erected by then. I think of the All Souls Mass that will be celebrated in St Patrick’s Church at the beginning of November. We haven’t been inside that church since Thomas’ funeral and I don’t want to go back.

16th November 2000
A week ago it was Thomas’ first birthday and God gave us a warm dry day. We were able to visit the cemetery with a “Happy Birthday Thomas” banner, fresh flowers, felt flowers made by Duncan, and small statues of the Holy Family to place on the grave. After arranging our gifts on Thomas’ grave, we took some birthday photos with all the children smiling, a contrast to the photos taken on the day after Thomas was born. The children have survived. They have made Thomas an important part of the family and now celebrate having a brother in heaven instead of clinging to the sadness of his birth and death. After our photo session it was time for a picnic lunch in the cemetery grounds…

… All the children insisted that we give Thomas a proper birthday celebration. We had a birthday banner in the kitchen for him and a birthday cake for tea. I felt tearful at various points of the day but I didn’t want to spoil everyone’s day with my sadness. It was easier to get through the day than I had anticipated. I didn’t look at my photos or memory box as this would have invited tears. Instead I contented myself with thinking about Thomas at night in bed and having my cry then.

It has been a very long year. I am quite surprised to find that it is finally over.

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