Happy 16th Birthday to Cole!

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Yesterday was Cole’s 16th birthday. His second birthday celebrated in heaven. Despite it being a cold, wet Tuesday night in a holiday week, more than 50 family and friends joined us in the neighborhood park where Cole’s memorial tree is planted. We lit candles to remember his light, and sang him ‘Happy Birthday’. The love for Cole was beautiful. Around the country, those who couldn’t attend remembered him with their own candles and ballon releases. It touches my heart to know that he is still so loved and remembered.

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Much earlier that day, when the clock struck 12 am on 11/22/16,  I wrote Cole a birthday letter and I want to share it with you all. Thank you for continuing to love him with me.

11/22/2016

Dear Cole,

Happy sweet 16 my sweet boy! I hope you are racing Luke Spalding in the fastest, coolest orange sports car and feeling ALL of the love from us here. I hope he’s teaching you how to drift. My fearless adventurer. I so hope where you are now is full of adventures for you.

You are so very missed. I can’t help but think you should be here. I should be letting you skip school to go get your license. You’d want a car but understand if you didn’t get one. I wish I was moving mountains to be able to hand you some keys kid. You deserved them. It may not have been much, but you’d have been so excited and happy just to finally be 16, and made the best of it like you always did.

3 years ago you fearlessly faced a surgery that would remove half of your liver to get you cancer free again. This was no small thing but you weren’t afraid at all! You intended to live, you trusted and believed in your future. You went rock climbing the day before! You never once thought it might not work, none of us did. You taught me, and so many others, how to believe. And even though you are gone, somehow I still do. Everyday I try to trust and believe the way you showed me.

Believing is how I’ve managed to survive a year, 3 months, and 19 days without you. Believing you are someplace better and that someday, I will get to see you again there. Believing that all you endured, your bravery, your fight is your legacy – and that good can still come from your life and mine. Believing there is still a reason for me here, and that I can keep your light of hope shining for others.

I don’t know if I will ever find peace or make sense of it all. I don’t think it will ever be OK for you not to be here after all we went through. I’m learning that I will grieve as long as I love you and baby, that’s forever. To the moon and back. To infinity and beyond…

I cherish the memories of our adventures, of your charm, wit, and silliness. I am so thankful for the years we got that were never promised, for all the great time we had together just us, especially in those last hard years. I hope you know how honored I was to be able to take care of you. You will always be my hero. 

I know I haven’t done so great at being “OK” like I promised. I didn’t forget any of my promises. Thank you for always being so patient with your mom. I know you’re pulling all the strings and trying like hell to keep me smiling. Thank you for the signs. I feel you. I see your presence in my life every day. I promise I won’t let you down. I will always believe in you. I will find a way to be ok. 

I hope now that you are tall, tan and strong, like you’d want to be at 16. I hope so much that you are safe and happy, and can still feel how loved you are here. You will never be forgotten. Like you used to say, “Legends never die”. 

You taught me so much and continue to. Please help me to be brave and ColeStrong and live a life we’d both be proud of. I promise I will always celebrate your life. The greatest thing I’ll ALWAYS be is Cole’s Mom. I love you. Forever. 

Until I see you again,
LOVE, MOM

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