Last year in honor of Gabriel's 2nd birthday, I came up with 10 days of activities to commemorate his brief but special life. The celebration was bigger than I anticipated, and I was able to find so much healing in the participation of friends and family through Facebook. This year I look forward to another year of celebrating Gabriel, and life.
Happy Birthday, Gabriel - Tuesday June 10, 2014 - Wear your Gabriel t-shirt, and be sure to sign up for Gabriel's Magic Mullet Run, or volunteer to work on race day; the registration fees will increase after Gabriel's birthday.
Day 1 - Wednesday June 11, 2014 - Cupcake day! Just like last year, we'll commemorate this day by enjoying cupcakes. When Gabriel was 24 hours old, joining only 25% of anencephalic babies which live to be one day old, our family celebrated by having cupcakes. Enjoy a cupcake on this day.
Day 2 - Thursday June 12, 2014 - "It was my pleasure." As I handed Gabriel's tiny body over to the mortuary, the last words I said to him were "It was my pleasure." I truly believe the opportunity to care for the sick, wounded, terminally ill, orphaned or abandoned, is our privilege. From grandparents, to the handicapped, to stray dogs, on this day find a way to honor someone or some critter who you've been privileged to care for in their time of need and share with us on Facebook.
Day 3 - Friday June 13, 2014 - "Footprints." Gabriel was known for leaving his mark on this world, not just with his resilient spirit, but with his big feet. I was never a big fan of feet, until I recognized my own in my baby boy's. On this day, find a way to leave your footprint.
Day 4 - Saturday June 14, 2014 - Gabe's Magic Mullet Run - Join us as a runner or as a volunteer at Gabe's Magic Mullet Run, so named to encourage people to be unafraid of the unknown or unusual. If you can't be with us in person, try to find another local charity run to participate in on that day. And sport your mullet!
Day 5 - Sunday June 15, 2014 - Father's Day - Although this day is to honor fathers, I ask that fathers our there take time on this day to give special thanks to their children. They are, after all, our greatest gift. I look forward to honoring both of my babies, and their fathers, on this day. We were privileged to have Gabriel with us, contrary to our expectations, on Father's Day 2011, forever changing the meaning of this holiday for me.
Day 6 - Monday June 16, 2014 - Paradise - Those who have been following Gabriel's story know that he became a big brother this year, to a little sister named Eden. Eden's name means paradise, and I have written of the kind of paradise that she brings, perfect in its imperfections just like her brother Gabe. On this day, look for paradise in your everyday life, and share it on Facebook.
Day 7 - Tuesday June 17, 2014 - Blueberries!!! - Gabriel's blueberry bush, thought to have died but continuing to thrive, has become almost as "famous" as Gabriel. It's come to symbolize his defiance of the odds. Enjoy some blueberries on this day in celebration of life, and share with us on Facebook.
Day 8 - Wednesday June 18, 2014 - A Perfect Storm - When I think of the tumultuous, tragic loss of my son, and the struggles of caring for him during his brief life, I think of that time as a perfect storm. Although this time was difficult and full of grief, Gabriel also brought me so much joy, and my love for him continues to grow, nourished by the storm. On this day reflect on a difficult time in your life that made you stronger, your own perfect storm. If you feel up to sharing, please do share with us on Facebook.
Day 9 - Thursday June 19, 2014 - Rainbow Day - The rainbow is a special symbol in the infant loss community, representing our hope and the promise that our storm will pass and give way to a new kind of beauty. Look for the rainbows in your own life on this day, and share them on Facebook.
Day 10 - Friday June 20, 2014 - ANGELVERSARY - This is the day Gabriel's soul left his earthly body and moved on to be with our Lord. We will do a balloon release on the Panorama bluffs in East Bakersfield at 6 p.m. Please feel free to join us, or to release a balloon on your own, in a symbol of our Gabriel's journey to Heaven where he continues to change the world.