Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A Shared March 16th Birthday

My mom and I are good friends with our neighbor, Joanna, who lives just 2 houses down. The fact that we live so close and that we are friends makes it even more "ironic" that her daughter, Ashley, was also born on March 16th. She will be 13 this year, which means Lily was born on her 7th birthday.

We didn't know them well when Lily was born. However, it's crazy to think about how we were living by each other and we had no idea that on the day I was at the hospital delivering Lily, they were celebrating Ashley's birthday. Two little girls born at the hospital on the same date 7 years apart.

We discovered this shared date a year later, when Lily would have turned 1. It came up in casual conversation with my mom one day. That was around the time we started becoming friends with Joanna. We decided to take Ashley a gift to honor Lily on her birthday, since we can't get anything for our own little girl. They didm't even know about Lily at that point, but right when we took the gift over, Joanna was surprised we remembered her birthday and said, "oh, you must have someone in your family with that birthday." So my mom told her about our girl. She was so sweet about it and wrote in a thank you card: "Ashley has really enjoyed her birthday gifts. I'm glad she could bring happiness to your special day." (I am referencing old blog posts to recall these details).

Here is the gift we gave Ashley in 2011 (Lily's 1st birthday).

After that first year giving Ashley a gift, we decided to make it an annual tradition to honor Lily. And by that point, we had become good friends with Joanna. 

Here is the gift we gave Ashley in 2012 (Lily's 2nd birthday).

In 2013, we had a special little celebration for both Lily and Ashley at their house. I even took some of my Lily keepsakes over to share. Here's a photo of Joanna, Ashley, and I on that day.

Joanna got a cake that said "Happy 10th Birthday, Ashley." I wish she had included Lily's name too since it was for both of the just-as-real-and-loved girls born on March 16th. And of course it hurt when I didn't see her name, but I recognize and understand that people simply cannot understand what I want and need. People don't know how to handle Lily and the loss of her. I need to remember to have grace in that and to not take offense. Instead, I will continue to gently "grieve out loud," say her name, and incorporate her into my life. Maybe people will start to take a hint about how I love to include Lily as I continue to do so. I took 10 candles for Ashley and a number "3" for Lily's 3rd birthday. So, she was still honored on the cake after all. I actually wrote a blog post about how disappointed I was that night which you can read HERE

Here is the gift we gave Ashley in 2013 (Lily's 3rd birthday).

Not only is doing this for Ashley a sweet way to honor Lily, but we really enjoy shopping for little girls! We loved watching Ashley open her gifts and it meant so much to see how she truly loved what we gave her! She made use of her gifts while we were there.

Here is Ashley with the gift we gave her in 2014 (Lily's 4th birthday). 
Another successful year with a gift she enjoyed. :)

This is the chocolate cake we enjoyed. My mom made it from scratch (it was a big hit!) And I decorated it. Okay, don't laugh at how awful it looks haha. At least you can read it (it says Happy B-day L & A). There were 11 candles for Ashley and Lily's number "4" candle. We sang "Happy Birthday" and Ashley blew the candles out.

Here is the card we gave Ashley that year. It has a butterfly holding a cupcake. When I saw it, it reminded me of Lily, which is why I selected it. :)

For Lily's 5th birthday in 2015, my sister-in-law, Kala, and I made red-velvet cupcakes for the celebration. Ashley loved the gift we chose for her. Each year, as Ashley grows older, she likes different things and it makes me wonder what Lily would like as she'd grow up. When I hear "A" talk about her March 16 birthday, it makes my heart sink a little to know I'll never hear those words come from the lips of my daughter. I took Lily's prints to have her a part of the evening.

Here is the gift we're giving Ashley this year (Lily's 6th birthday).

And here's the card... perfect with flowers for my flower. :)

Oh, and Joanna wrote Lily's name in the sand for me in July 2013 at Cove Point, Lusby/Solomons, Maryland. That was sweet of her. :)

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