Tuesday night, Adam and the boys and I went to dinner at my dear friend Amanda's house. April 7th would've been her son Gavin's first birthday and "the girls" and I really wanted to be with Amanda on this sad yet special day. It was important to Amanda that this day, the day of her third son's birth, the first day of his short, yet ever so important life, not be a day of mourning. Julie and Christy spent the morning cooking and prepping. It felt sad, yet going through the motions of preparing for a party seemed...necessary and comforting even. Perhaps it was doing something that seemed necessary, perhaps the fact that Gavin was on everyone's mind was what brought comfort, that it was evident that it is still possible to maintain a connection with him.
When we arrived it was horribly and painfully obvious that the balloons and the decorations and the obligatory "smash cake" were all missing. And for a few awful moments I thought we'd made a mistake in pushing our way in her home and making her feel like she should throw a party. But those moments moved into a rhythm that allowed for a sort of comforting awkwardness. We let the kids run around, we made polite conversation, we ate. We didn't speak about Gavin but not because we didn't know what to say, but I think because we all had too much to say.
Sweet little Gavin...his blond, silken hair, skin that seemed to stay creamy even during his sickness...his tiny little body and tiny little clothes that he never had a chance to grow into...blankets and baby gifts that have long been packed away...a little, yet significant, life that didn't last nearly long enough...all of the what-ifs, the hopes and dreams that his family had for him...these were all the things that were on everyone's mind. And what I realized as I sat looking arou d the dining room table, was that sweet Gavin brought all of these people together...together in love and compassion and hope. And that those things haven't waned with his death, haven't waned with time...we will always have memories, be they bittersweet, and Gavin will always continue to be a tie that binds us.