Letter to Kai – your 3rd birthday

I realize that this post may seem cliche or cheesey – so I feel like a disclaimer of this sort is me totally owning up to the nature of what I’m about to write. So here goes.

This 4th of July weekend, I’ve thought a lot about the word freedom. I remember when Shawn and I lived in Romania and learned what the people of Romania had been through in their history and seeing how many liberties and freedom we had, honestly, taken for granted. It was a needed wake-up call for us. I also reflected on how many sacrifices so many people have made for establishing this country – my dad had us recall what we learned in school back in the day – it was good to try and remember those things (though I admit, I had to pull up google for some things!). And then I think about Kai – I have these letters and notes that people wrote to Kai and I do have permission to share them anonymously and I will soon, but one of the notes was written on one of the folded cranes sent in and I remember it said, “you’re free Kai, free as a Krane” (yes, it was spelled with a K).

He is free.

Free from this broken world, the pain he was suffering. A new freedom. And as I think about that, I think about the letter I wrote to Kai last week on what would have been his 3rd birthday (June 27). I kept thinking – should I post this? Does it show too much broken-ness? Should I post something not so bittersweet? But, a wise and kind woman who has also faced (and beat!) cancer with her son, reminded me of the freedom there is in being honest about the broken-ness. We are all broken in our own way from our individual paths, stories, heck, just because we’re human. We’re in this together – and I guess this is me just saying, I’m broken, I’ll never be perfect, and I don’t know what/how this journey is supposed to look, so all I know I can do is be honest and try to look for the good….. to grieve with hope.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you who were out there spreading light and love on Kai’s birthday. Thank you so very much.

Dear sweet Kai Kai,

Today (June 27, 2014) would have been your third birthday. Oh how I wish so much, so much that you would be here with us and we could have thrown you this celebration today and you would be here. I hope that you felt/saw/heard, however it works in Heaven, all the people here wishing you a happy birthday and loving you and then doing good, kind things for others in honor of your life.

Kai, I miss you so much.

There is such a huge hole in my life – you have not left my heart, but it’s just so different and so hard learning how to be your mom and love you from afar when all i want to do is hold you and talk to you and watch you learn and grow and challenge and investigate and run, jump, sing, scream, cry, talk and grow up. I would love to see you and Maya together.

We were watching our old videos of you and even seeing the one video your Dad had taken right after Maya was born where you were on the floor crying and throwing a tantrum and Maya was next to you screaming and crying and since we couldn’t figure out how to calm either of you we just decided to video tape it for the humor in it. At the time, it was so frustrating, but tonight it’s so funny how when I saw that video, my heart ached so strongly to be able to have that again with you. I keep thinking back to the last few months of your life – I keep thinking if I noticed signs you were sick or if there was any way we could have known. I feel so awful if I missed if you were in pain or if I made you “work out” your tantrum for too long when really it was the brain tumors that were making you unable to settle like you once did. I feel so awful Kai. I know that I didn’t know and that as your mom it was my job to love you which meant not only the hugs and laughs but the firmness and discipline and tears. But, I know there were times I lost my temper and I screamed and I hate that – and I know that I apologized to you and told you when it was wrong of me to lose my temper so badly but I remember your face and how sad you looked when I’d do that. Oh Kai, you were such a patient little boy when I was learning how to be a mom to you and your new baby sister and just had no clue what I was doing. You were so sweet to your sister, such a good, good helper to me.

I wish I had new videos of you and new pictures of you. I see your friends changing and growing up and I wonder what you would be like now. I know I’ll only ever know you in your little 2.5 year old body, but I feel like these days your spirit seems wiser or older somehow.  I’m so happy that last year you had such a good time in the backyard for your birthday party. I know that you had no idea what was going on but you were so so happy – Dad carrying you on his shoulders through the sprinklers and your half-smile in amazement as everyone sang you Happy Birthday. And kai birthday surprise 2013then THE best face you made when you realized what a present was and you opened Uncle Richard’s present and saw the dump truck and it was like the most amazing thing ever and you shrieked in such excitement. I want to imagine that when you took your first breath and opened your eyes in Heaven the joy and excitement and love you must have felt were infinitely beyond what you experienced here and your face lit up more than it did that day. And that’s all I ever wanted for you – to know you were loved by us, know how to love, and know that God is taking care of you always and you are safe and secure no matter what. Kai, we will always be here with you here and always celebrate you. I will always miss you and I think I will only be missing you more and more as the days go by – I can’t even imagine more of your birthdays passing by without you here. But we celebrate you today Kai – did you see the balloons? Did you hear your friends shout Happy Birthday? We love you so much Kai – you gave so much to us. And your sister – this morning, I picked her up from her bed to feed her and she was absolutely insistent that we look at your picture before she ate. I don’t know if you see her do this every morning – but you’re still being such a good big brother to her. I love you Kai, so so much. I don’t know what to say to express it, but I’ll ask God to let you know – I know He can tell you perfectly. Happy, happy birthday Kai. I’m so thankful to celebrate three years of knowing and loving you. mmmmm-waaaa!

11 Comments on Letter to Kai – your 3rd birthday

  1. Kevin and Cheryl Smith
    July 6, 2014 at 10:55 pm (3 years ago)

    Bless your dear, dear heart! I am still praying for you and believing God to see you through each step of this difficult process…this thing called grief. You are a shining light…sharing your brokenness and what is real is the part that reaches others the most. Thank you for being transparent on this journey…for being genuine…because this is real life. This is what matters. This is what resonates and what heals. God bless you and hold you extra close, dear one.

    Reply
  2. Cori Park
    July 7, 2014 at 6:26 am (3 years ago)

    So beautiful and tender Aki. We hold you and your family in our hearts with love always and pray that God’s love and grace provides strength to you daily.

    Reply
  3. Joyce Maynard
    July 7, 2014 at 7:44 am (3 years ago)

    Your letter to Kai is so raw, so beautiful. Tears are streaming down my face. As a bereaved mom I feel these feelings too. Hugs.

    Reply
  4. Veronica Acosta
    July 7, 2014 at 8:10 am (3 years ago)

    Your words are so beautiful.

    Reply
  5. Shawn Slockers
    July 7, 2014 at 9:15 am (3 years ago)

    He was a tremendously patient and caring kid while we were both learning to be parents. Well – not so much that first year as a baby…but once he became a toddler he was so tolerant of our missteps and so caring for his family and friends. I love this picture of Kai frozen in screaming excitement!

    Reply
  6. Mik Ichiba
    July 7, 2014 at 10:45 am (3 years ago)

    This is such a beautiful post Aki. My heart aches for you and Shawn. Your faith and positive attitude are such an inspiration to me and I thank you for that. We are all far from perfect and I’ve had those times where I have lost my patience with my girls. I pray to our Lord every day for the strength to have patience. I pray to our Lord to help me understand the balance between unconditional love, but staying strong to teach them what is acceptable and not in terms of bad behavior. I also pray for you and Shawn. You guys are amazing and I look forward to the next time I get to see that sweet Maya!

    Reply
  7. Mindy Anderson
    July 8, 2014 at 5:39 am (3 years ago)

    I like that you posted this. It is so heartfelt and I know that Kai hears it. I’m sure he got to have a wonderful birthday party in heaven. I just want to let you know that I read all if these entries and think of and pray for your family.

    Reply
  8. Erin Brackney
    July 8, 2014 at 11:48 pm (3 years ago)

    Such beautiful thoughts! Thank you so much for sharing them with us. Love you all and was thinking about Kai and praying for you all on his birthday-and wondering what a birthday party is like in heaven!

    Reply
  9. Kristin Hampsten
    July 9, 2014 at 8:33 pm (3 years ago)

    I really needed to hear your message today. I’ve been really struggling with parenting and needed your mesage. You are continuing to teach me and so many others so many lessons, thank you for your sharing. Bless you.

    Reply
  10. Caroline Harries
    July 11, 2014 at 10:32 am (3 years ago)

    Love this picture of him!!!! It’s amazing how many stories I have been reading or hearing of little kids of cancer – and you hear the same thing from all the parents – no one knew for a long time that they had cancer… Praying against the spirits of blame. You are both amazing people and parents and Kai knew how much he was loved – every day. Without a doubt. Thankful that we can live in freedom because Jesus paid for it all!!!! Miss you Kai Kai. Keep on writing!!!

    Reply
  11. Maureen Voosen
    July 18, 2014 at 3:55 am (3 years ago)

    Happy birthday Kai! So many people celebrated you today, all over the world.

    Reply

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