Today, we celebrated Grady's 3rd birthday. It seems like more than three years ago that I said hello and goodbye to him...
Jessica loves Matthew, and I know she would have been a great big sister to Grady, too.
Jessica had an elaborate day planned for us to go to MeMe's house in Dahlonega and spend the day. But, unfortunately, MeMe hasn't been feeling well, so we went to plan B. And it turned out perfectly!
The day started out great when, at 6am, Gib told me to stay in bed and rest, and he got up with Matthew. It was so nice to doze. I got up around 8am because I heard Matthew screaming. He had fallen but was okay. I got him down for a nap and went BACK to bed! I didn't get up till 10am!'
We took our time this morning and didn't leave home until about 1:30pm. We stopped and got some balloons to release, along with some subs, chips and drinks for a picnic. We went to a park called Little Mulberry Park. It has a 2.2 mile walking trail around a lake. The leaves were pretty but had changed so much since I was there just a few days ago.
Not long before we got there, the blue skies turned to gray and the sun hid behind the clouds. This made it a little cooler than we would have liked, but it wasn't bad. After our picnic, the girls rode their bikes along the path, while Gib, Matthew and I walked behind them.
After one time around the lake, we took a restroom break, changed Matthew and got our balloons. We found the perfect spot on a dock where the leaves were beautiful.
I was hesitant to release them there because there was a man fishing with his dog on the other side of the dock. He turned out to be very friendly (more about him in a minute). I really wanted to ask him to take our family picture but he had fish and bait all over his hands, and I really didn't want them on my camera! :) So, Gib took the pictures.
As we released the balloons, we sang "Happy Birthday" to Grady. We watched them float high in the sky. They stayed together for a while but then four of them made a straight line while the fifth one drifted off to the left by itself. Gib said, "Maybe Grady is reaching for that one." :)
After we released them, the man who was fishing said, "That was one of the most beautiful things I've ever experienced." I told him it was for our baby in heaven who would be three today, and he said, "Man", while putting his head down and shaking it. I told him not to be sad, but to take it as a reminder to not take one minute for granted and to be thankful for what he has. We wished him luck with his fishing and his fish fry, and off we went. I can't help but think that maybe he needed to be part of our "Grady moment" today...
As the girls got back on their bikes (they wanted to go around one more time), Gib started running while pushing Matthew in the stroller. I wasn't going to be left behind, so I started running, too. Very soon after I started running, I thought my legs would fall off. I told Gib I was shooting for half a mile. Half a mile came and went. I RAN TWO MILES!!! Gib was cheering me on and saying I was doing it for Grady and that motivated me so much. But, Jessica and Emma Grace motivated me even more.
You see, Jessica has just started basketball cheerleading and has learned a few cheers. Those two girls changed the words to one of her cheers for me, and at every mile marker they chanted, "Come on mighty mama, you know what to do, you gotta rock with the baby and roll with the kids". It so doesn't rhyme, but it meant SO much to me! They were so excited to see me coming up to each mile marker, and I would tell them to go. Off they would go to the next. I really wanted to run three miles for Grady's third birthday, but Matthew was D.O.N.E.! He had completely missed his afternoon nap, we were out of snacks and he was ready to go. I wasn't going to put him through more torture so I could do another mile. But, now...I'm ready to run again! Hopefully this is the start of something new! :)
Here I am at the end of my two miles. I might not be able to walk tomorrow, but I did it!
It was worth it to see how proud my family was of me, and I have to admit, I was pretty proud of myself. I haven't run in years!
Along our path, a bunch of ducks crossed our path. I had to stop and jog in place because I knew if I stopped I wouldn't start again. On our way home, a buck crossed our path. How often do you see a buck??? And on a different road, another deer crossed in front of us. We took those as signs from Grady, especially the buck!
We ventured home and Jessica was such a huge help. While Emma Grace and I went to the store and to get Chinese for dinner, she fed Matthew dinner and bathed him for bed. After Matthew was down, the girls and I made a cookie cake for Grady. It was super easy and delicious! I used the wrong tip for writing on the cookie but it turned out okay. We lit candles, sang and dug in!
This day was exactly what it was supposed to be. And it was beautiful! I am so thankful for the cards I received in the mail from my brother and his family, Aunt Barbara, Mary Beth and MeMe. I'm so thankful for the phone messages I received. I am so thankful for my friends who posted about Grady on their facebook page. And, I'm so thankful for all my friends who left sweet comments on my facebook posts. It means the world to me that people remember and honor our sweet Grady with us. His life means so much to so many and that's exactly the way I want it!
Dear Grady, We had a wonderful day celebrating you today. I told Daddy that I could see you on a big wheel or a bike with training wheels trying to catch up to your sisters around the lake. I know you would have loved the cookie cake we baked you, and you would have loved the Bob the Builder card MeMe sent you in the mail. It was decorated with stickers and everything. I will put that and your other cards in your memory box and keep them forever. Your life was not in vain. I try everyday to give your short life meaning and make you proud as you look down on all of us. I know you celebrated today with Granny and Popaw Barry, along with all of your other relatives there with you. Or did you celebrate yesterday? I often wonder if there is a celebration on the day you entered those pearly gates... Either way, we miss you here. We wouldn't wish you back now that you've been there...instead we look forward to the day when we are there with you forever! We love you SO much! (((HUGS))) and KISSES to you in heaven! Mommy
(And I forgot that I rode Jessica's bike, too! That's me in the pink jacket.)