Five Birthdays

We have spent five Birthdays without our son. We were only actually able to celebrate one with him, his first. I will never regret his party. So many people wonder why we had a big party. I will never regret people being able to celebrate our little boy with us.

We have spent five Birthdays celebrating at a cemetery. What started out as something that we needed to do has turned into something that we love to do. I love every balloon release, every painted rock, every walk in his memory. I love sharing crazy stories about his short 18 months on Earth. I like remembering. I like that it is all about him for a little while, even though he is no longer here. My family needs that space to wrap our minds around the fact that he was here and he needs to be celebrated.

We always have a lot of people show up to support us and remember our Benny. We are thankful for the love. We are thankful that they were a part of his life. Some never even knew him but show up just to support us. Year after year. It amazes me. These people are the ones that hold us up. They keep us going.

This year, what was notably absent at my son’s birthday celebration was any family. Parker and I realized after we left the cemetery that not one person related to us had made it there. Out of the 30+ people that came to be with us some five years later, not one was blood related.

Now, we don’t have much family close by and I get it that people are busy. Maybe some think after five years we shouldn’t still be celebrating his birthday. Maybe it was just bad timing this year. Who knows?

It brings me back to when I started having babies and first really noticed the lack of family in our lives. It felt so very lonely. I grew up with my grandma less than a mile away. She watched me after school. She watched me when I was sick. The smell of her fresh baked cookies or butter cake filled my house growing up. All of the freshly ironed clothes that she hung in our closets were lost on me until I was an adult. We had family around, constantly.

My own life is so different. My kids don’t even know what they’re missing because their reality has been so dissimilar. This whole grief process brings it all back though. I feel like I’m right back there with a screaming newborn thinking how am I supposed to navigate this? What if I do it wrong? It’s so very lonely again.

This is the point at which Parker says to me, ‘this is because our friends are our family.’ And he’s right. But he’s away, so I’m going to stew in this a bit. Maybe I’m just missing my mom. Saying I invisioned my life a little differently would be an understatement. Maybe it’s as simple as feeling like people are forgetting our Benny.


Author: sheriroaf

Sheri Roaf is the mother of four wonderful children who turned to blogging after her 17 month old son Bennett passed away unexpectedly. Through her writing she has found a way to help herself and her family move forward in the face of tragedy.

3 thoughts on “Five Birthdays”

  1. So sorry first of all for your loss of Benny but secondly that feeling of your family having forgot about him. I live 8 hours away from my son and his family but I can tell you this, if they were celebrating my sweet grandson, Luke, in any way at all, I would be there. I will never forget him and not a day goes by that I don’t think about him and the 17 years I was blessed to have him in my life. My son John and my beautiful daughter in law, Patty, also are so blessed with their friends, who continue to be there three and a half years later. Since all of their family lives in Canada and they are in the U.S. I too am so grateful for their friends, who fill in for the rest of us when we can’t be there. Sending hugs and I know it’s hard but take comfort in those friends that are your family now.


    1. Thank you Donna. Patty and her friends are pretty incredible, I’m very glad our paths have crossed. I think I was really missing my mom, it’s been a tough road navigating this without her.


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