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Happy birthday Reed!

June 16, 2021

Hey Reed –

Happy birthday!  I can only imagine that birthdays in heaven truly are something special.  I messaged my friend today who shares your birthday to tell her how thankful I am to celebrate her on this day because knowing I can makes not celebrating you a little bit easier.  I am so thankful God made her my friend for a myriad of reasons, but this is definitely one of them.  Her sweet response explained that she was having a good day, but she was certain that your heavenly celebration was even better.  On this side of heaven, I am thankful for all the little signs of you today, like the temperature reading on my computer being your football number much of the day and the cardinal singing without stopping while I was working outside.

We continue to miss you, but we feel blessed and at peace that we are the keepers of your legacy.  Just tonight on a quick run to pick up Sister’s birthday present we stopped by another store, and I saw some really awesome dog toys.  Unlike Hucky (please give him a giant squeeze from me because I miss him all the time too), our current pups seem to go through their toys really quickly.  I was looking for something fun and different than what they have had recently.  Among the toys was the perfect stuffie with long legs for dragging around and substantial weight for ruggedness, the only draw back was it was a cheetah.  Nope. Not going to happen. I simply cannot.  The Reed Stevens Legacy Program where we give away Reed-A-Cheetahs to the surviving siblings of any child who dies at Avera McKennan is going strong. Even writing that gives me waves of bittersweet emotions. Pride because your love for others lingers in every family that is touched by your generosity, but sadness because we are awaiting the arrival of another batch of cheetahs any day now.  This has been a long and complicated year with the pandemic, and knowing the rapidity with which we went through cheetahs this year breaks my heart.  Yet, knowing how much those cheetahs mean to our family, I simply could not allow a cheetah of any fashion to become relegated to the dog toy graveyard, much like Sid’s backyard in the original Toy Story. 

I just could not.

While the year has been hard, the realignment of priorities was much needed.  Being forced to be still and be isolated at times helped us to realize that our life goals of loving Jesus and loving others will forever be the most important things in our lives.  Although we wish we could somehow move Minnesota next to Florida while we drag North and South Dakota with us, like the opening of the Scrambled States of America game we all loved to play, we realize how large the ache we have for missing you carries over into time we missed with others we love this past year.  We decided to finally make a big dream come true and we bought a lake place.  I think you would love it there. 

Over the weekend, we had a bunch of people you loved over to visit and others have lake places right close to ours.  We spent the time loving them all and spending time with the m.  Uncle Davy had the grand idea last night to walk to the Dairy Queen, and all of us decided to get Blizzards in honor of you, even if a day early.  We are nothing if not creatures of habit, since not all of us were present, we enjoyed Blizzards again tonight.  I am 100% certain you would approve, but I also know you would question if I was actually your mother having ice cream two nights in a row.

I am still that woman who on this day I realized her dream of becoming a mom.  But I am also the mom for whom the aches of every day life ebb and flow because grief is such a terrible companion.  I was reminded of that pain in such a profound way on our drive home from Alabama that I don’t think I will ever be able to remove the etching of that raw grief from my soul. 

On our trip home, we stopped at a rest area in Kentucky and we were taking a long walk to stretch our legs on the paved sidewalks throughout the location.  As we rounded a corner of the building, there was a tiny little bird hopping around and squawking the most pitiful sound.  I watched the little bird very closely to see if she was injured, because clearly, she was in distress.  She seemed to be physically fine and as you know, even if I did catch her, what could I have done for her while still driving back to Minnesota. Not to mention potentially breaking environmental laws while I was at it.  I said a quick prayer for her in my heart, and we continued to walk as we neared the next corner of the building where I realized the cause of her distress.  A tiny barely hatched baby bird had been knocked from its nest due to the high winds and was clearly gone.  My heart broke into a million pieces and my eyes welled with tears, because that precious little momma bird was telling the world, one Kentucky rest-stop patron at a time that her heart was shattered because she had lost her baby bird. 

I will never forget her anguish or the depth of her pain because I know what it is like to lose my baby bird. I have learned that even though we are doing well doesn’t mean we are always okay. In that moment watching the gut-wrenching scene, I recognized all the ways the momma I was before losing you isn’t exactly the same momma who writes to you every year.  This momma carries the gigantic hole in her heart, but uses that emptiness to love others every chance she gets. Just like her baby bird once did.  She will always love you and all her kids (biological or otherwise), and she will never tire of sharing your light with the rest of the world. 

You will always and forever be my sunshine.  Hug all my people, Hucky, and maybe that baby bird for good measure if nothing more than for your momma’s heart.

Loving you fiercely until I can hug you again. 

Love, Mom

  1. Melissa Faith permalink

    In tears here. Sending you so much love, my friend. And Happy Birthday Reed.

  2. Thank you for always sending your love. I miss you!

  3. Reed will never be forgotten. You are carrying his legacy so well. I finally had a moment to sit and read your beautiful letter. I’m so honored to share Reed’s day with him. Love you!

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