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Happy 31st Birthday, Aaron... 2008
Aaron, as we celebrate your birthday this year, I am so grateful for the MIRACLE of your birth 31 years ago, the MIRACLE of your life, the MIRACLE you will always be in my life and the MIRACLE of our son.
Aaron's birthday this year, the 29th of March, just happened to fall on the same day as four months. It has been four months today since he passed away. We wanted to make his birthday special this year since it is the first birthday since he passed away. So, we went to the zoo. A couple of days before Aaron passed away, we were talking about what we should do for Aaron Jr's birthday that weekend. We talked about going sledding, but wondered if it would be too cold since Aaron Jr had a cold. Aaron then talked about taking him to the zoo for his first time. We decided to play it by ear and see how Aaron Jr was feeling by the end of the week. Well, Aaron passed away two days before Aaron Jr's birthday, so we didn't get to celebrate it with Aaron. So, I figured going to the zoo on Aaron's birthday would be the best way to celebrate his birthday. That way, Aaron Jr's first time at the zoo would be on his Daddy's birthday. All week it was saying that Saturday was supposed to be rainy or snowy and really cold. We were talking about what we would do if the weather didn't cooperate. Nothing seemed like the right thing to do to celebrate Aaron's birthday... the zoo was the only thing that came to mind. So, we all prayed really hard that we would have good enough weather that would allow us to celebrate Aaron's birthday at the zoo with the Harkness Family. Even the morning of... the weather online was still saying that it was supposed to be very wet and very cold. Well, we decided to go ahead with the plans and see what happened. We went out to lunch at one of Aaron's favorite restaurants called 'Cafe Rio'. While we ate lunch the weather seemed to be getting warmer and warmer. It was not WARM, but it was getting bearable. The sun was even shining. So, after lunch, we headed to the zoo. We were all in jackets and coats, but the sun was nice and the weather wasn't as cold as it was supposed to be. It turned out to be a perfect day for us to go to the zoo. What a huge blessing. I am so grateful that our prayers were answered. It was a MIRACLE. We were blessed to be able to celebrate Aaron's birthday at Hogle Zoo. We had such a great time. The kids had a blast and us adults had a blast right along with them. The greatest part about the day was that even the times when I thought about Aaron and what he would be doing... what animals he would be the most excited to see... the things he would love to show Aaron Jr... ... ... the sorrow was there, but I felt like he was there with us. I think I felt him closer that day than I have for a while. This was another MIRACLE. We were all able to have a great day and truly celebrate Aaron's life. Here are some photos from the zoo...
Here is Aaron Jr in front of the sign for Hogle Zoo. I had this photo of Aaron with Aaron Jr put on this shirt so that Aaron Jr could wear it on his Daddy's birthday. I wanted there to be a way that Aaron could be in the photos on his own birthday... and it would help us to all be able to have him closer to us. And I did feel him closer. When I first put it on him that day, he couldn't stop staring down at it and saying 'Daddy'. It says 'My Daddy... ...always with me'. He wore it proudly all day long and slept in it that night. It is actually the same photo on the shirt as the one I have in the right column of our blog. The one with Aaron Jr. on Aaron's shoulders.
Some of the animals we saw...
This was a very funny place that we stopped... we stopped to see the cougar. On the left is Steve's son, Isaac and Sadie's daughter, Grace. Isaac is wearing a little animal suit to keep him warm and he was crawling around on the ground while we were looking at the cougar. Well, the cougar was VERY interested in this little 'animal' crawling around outside of his cage. So, he kept pacing back and forth and once in a while putting his face right up to the cage to check out the little 'animal'. Isaac didn't realize that he was the center of attention of a cougar. We all thought it was quite funny. Good thing there was a fence between the two of them.
Me & Aaron Jr.
Sue & Malia ; Sue & Steve & Pearl
Grace... she wore a toilet paper tail all day long. It was so funny. She is quite a character.
Aaron Jr. with his cotton candy. Malia shared so nicely with all of the other kids. Thank you Malia.
Leslie & Christa & Isaac & Sadie & Sophia
Grace & Pearl & Sadie & Sophia & Leslie & Aaron Jr & Christa & Malia & Steve & Isaac
We really missed you Dave, April, & Suzie.
Sophia & Grandpa & Malia & Aaron Jr & Grace & Isaac & Grandma & Pearl
Aaron Jr with the alligators. This is actually the place where I thought Aaron would have spent the most time. He loved reptiles. He was always trying to catch lizards and snakes. I hope Aaron Jr does the same thing... but maybe stays away from the rattle snakes. Aaron would catch those as well, but I would be too worried for Aaron Jr to do it.
Me & Aaron Jr.
After the zoo, we all went to the cemetery. It was very sad. I had a hard time there, but couldn't think of another place I would rather be. As I knelt there by myself, I just couldn't hold back the tears. I miss him so much.
This is Aaron Jr & Ode at our house that night. We had such a great time there. My friend Liz came to visit us. Aaron Jr and I watched movies and had a sleepover in the family room. I took the couch and he took the love seat. It was so much fun. I would have usually been nervous sleeping there without Aaron, but I didn't feel nervous even once. That is proof to me that he was with us that day AND that night.
We went to church at our ward that next day and it made me realize how much I miss the people there. I hadn't been back to the ward there since Aaron passed away. My friend Kerianne brought her two kids down and went with me. Our bishop let me come up and speak to the congregation. I was nervous to share my feelings with them, but I felt like I should. I wanted to thank them all for the love and support they have given to us. I wanted to share with them how much I miss Aaron, but that how grateful I am that we are sealed together as a family. I know that we will see Aaron again. I told them of my love for Jesus Christ and our Father in Heaven. After the meeting was over, so many of the friends we have there waited to give me a hug and share their love for us. I am so grateful for them all. I miss them all and I am grateful that they are in my life.
Happy 30th Birthday, Aaron... 2007
For Aaron's 30th birthday, I planned a surprise weekend up in Park City. I wish I had taken more photos. But at least I got one of Aaron with Aaron Jr. Several of Aaron's friends and some family came up to help with the surprise. It was so much fun. We had a great time. The day that we left Park City, it was Easter, so the photos from that day are a couple of posts down in my Easter posting. If we had known this would be the last birthday we were able to celebrate Aaron's birthday with him, we would have done so much more...
Happy 29th Birthday, Aaron... 2006
The top photo here is of Aaron at his fourth annual surprise party I threw him. He is holding Aaron Jr. That was the first year we had Aaron Jr with us to celebrate Aaron's birthday. The bottom photo is ON Aaron's birthday. We went to visit his Grandma who passed away just a few shorts months later. After we visited her, we went out to eat, then...
The top photo is of him with 'his birthday cake'. The bottom photo is of Aaron when we went to his parents' house to celebrate his birthday. He fell asleep with a gift he had received on his finger. Steve & Christa... that is the gift you gave him, I believe. A component for his mountain bike.
Happy 28th Birthday, Aaron... 2005
This was Aaron's 3rd annual surprise party. The surprise took place at a restaurant called 'Cafe Alicia's'. Everyone was there when we got there, then we went to his parents' house after for some games and cake. It was a really great surprise and we had a lot of fun.
Left to right: Kristi, Angie, Nate, Chad, Rori, Joann, Justin, Dax, Rob, Kaily, April, Dave, Austin, Michelle, Aaron, Leslie, Spencer, Spencer Jr.
This was Aaron's party with his family at his parents' house.
Happy 27th Birthday, Aaron... 2004
This is a photo of all of the people who came to this 2nd annual surprise party for Aaron. Funny story about this year... Justin had taken Aaron pheasant hunting for the day while Joann and I got things ready at our house. People were going to show up and then Justin was supposed to have Aaron back shortly after and then have the surprise. Well... Justin called after they were already late and said that Ode (our dog) had gotten lost and they were trying to find him. Justin kept me posted throughout the evening, but people had to leave after being there for a few hours. It got too late and dark for them to continue looking for Ode, so they came home... well, probably about 1/3 of the guests had left, but we still had a good time. They didn't get there until about 10:30 or 11:00 pm. The friends who could stay... we talked until really late into the night. It was still fun. Aaron and I drove the 2 to 2 1/2 hour drive again the next day to continue looking for Ode. After looking for him for a few hours, a little boy came riding his bike up behind us and asked us if we were missing a black dog. He led us to his house where Ode had been for the night. We were very grateful to that little boy. We love Ode and are so happy he is still with us.
In the photo: Kaily, Rob, Spencer, Spencer, Kristi, Suzy, Mark, Dan, ?, Rori, Chad, Nate, Nate, Angie, Joann, Marianne, Justin, Dax, Charlie, Kerianne
This is Aaron & Me at that same surprise party. The top photo is of Aaron at his parents' home the day they celebrated his birthday.
Aaron's ACTUAL birthday was spent in Flagstaff, Arizona where we were visiting his brother Steve and wife Christa. These photos were taken in Sedona, Arizona. Left to right: Leslie, Aaron; Aaron, Steve
Happy 26th Birthday, Aaron... 2003
And last, but not least... Aaron's FIRST annual surprise party thrown up in Heber City at a cabin. Thanks Angie for getting the cabin for us. This surprise party, since it was the first party, was the best surprise of them all. The rest of them... I think Aaron just humored me. He didn't really love to be in the spotlight, but I loved throwing him parties. I loved planning them and especially planning the surprise part. This time around, we were supposed to go ice fishing with Rob and Kaily. Well, we were supposed to meet them up in Heber City and then drive up together to the lake and camp for the night. When we were on our way up there, I had Rob call and say that he and Kaily had been driving around while they waited for us and their car broke down. So they gave us the address where they were stranded and once we got there... as soon as Aaron made his way up to their car and poked his head under the hood... everyone jumped out from behind a bush and screamed 'surprise'. It was perfect. Then we told Aaron that we were parked in front of the cabin where we would be sleeping for the night and that ice fishing wasn't really happening. I think he was very disappointed that ice fishing was out, but he humored me that night as well since I had put the work into it for him. In the photo: Aaron, Leslie, April, Angie, Nate, the Larsons (I think), the Thomas's, Dan, Rob, Kaily, Dax
Once again, Aaron's ACTUAL birthday was spent visiting Aaron's brother Steve and wife Christa in Huntington Beach, California. The day of his birthday, Steve and Aaron went surfing, we all went kayaking, then we went out to dinner.
Left: after Kayaking... Aaron and Leslie
Right: Aaron at his parents' home celebrating with them.
Happy 25th Birthday, Aaron... 2002
This year, Aaron and I were only dating and on his birthday, he was in Brazil with his brother, Steve, and some friends. Unfortunately, this is the ONLY photo of just Aaron and Steve that I have from that trip. Aaron and I were supposed to go to Brazil in the next couple of years, but never got a chance. I am so glad he got to take his brother with him on his only return trip to Brazil after his mission.
To all of you who are still reading this...
Thank you for humoring me. I tried to pick just a few photos to share, but I had a hard time narrowing it down... and since I only got to spend FIVE short birthdays WITH Aaron (6 if you count that first year)... I figured, why not show all of the years?
Today, I was driving in the car with Aaron Jr. and out of the blue, he said 'Happy Birthday' and he repeated it in his own way of saying it... over and over... when I finally said 'Happy Birthday?' He then said 'Happy Birthday... (pause) ...Daddy'. Then he said it again. It was so sweet.
When I really sit and think about how short of a time Aaron and I were together... it knocks the wind out of me. It is just not enough time. I really envy couples who get to spend any length of time together that is longer than that. Even one more day would have been a treasure. I am grateful for those years though. If I had known I would lose Aaron after only nearly 6 years together... I would still marry him. I would have still been willing to go through the heartache and pain if it meant being blessed with these years with him. I miss countless things about Aaron... if this post wasn't already so long, I would write some of them... but that will have to be another time.
I am so grateful he was and still is a part of our lives. He will live on through us and through the memories we created together. The sorrow of losing Aaron will continue to be carried within us, but the knowledge we have of eternal families... that also will continue to bring us joy.
Happy Birthday, Aaron! We love and miss you always...
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