Charlie loved Birthdays. One of his favorite pastimes was to ask ‘who’s birthday is next?’ We would go through the list of our people… Libby’s birthday, then Gaga’s then Ellie’s and so on and so forth…He always wanted to celebrate everyone.

So on September 13th when my day came around, all I could think about was how I couldn’t accept that I was having another birthday and my sweet boy would not. I struggled really hard that day… wanting not to be acknowledged, wincing when people called and texted jubilations. I refused to feel happiness on my birthday, How could I, without my Charlie?

I buried my head in my hands later that afternoon, wanting so much for the day to be wiped from the books. Then said to myself, ‘I can’t live like this. If I have to be on this earth taking breath, I have to find some joy.’

I have found in this journey of grief that moments of joy are precious and essential. Not allowing them to effect you, will inevitably lead you down a dark road in which I refuse to allow myself to take. I have to laugh, sing, dance and be playful. I have to do that in order to live.

Finding joy after losing Charlie, while difficult in so many ways has been easier than it was before I experienced this tragedy. Joy before Charlie died was something to obtain, a goal to reach, something to strive for. Now I realize joy is not a prize, but a choice.

So, I put my big girl panties on (as I often have to do these days), called a dear friend and said, ‘Ok, I need to have a birthday today. Can you help?’ Luckily, she was 5 steps ahead of me (as she usually is) and that night we had a party.

I have to chose everyday to be joyful. We all have that choice. Some days are harder than others for me find my joy and when they come, I have to fight, fight for the joy that will keep me breathing.. find something to laugh about, to be thankful for, to carry me through.

And then I think of my sweet little Charlie.. his giggle, that smile and all the joy he had in his heart … And I know: God did not create us in darkness but in light… so that we could experience true joy. It is already in us. We just have to chose it.

Psalm 28:7

The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.