Happy 9th birthday, Zekey

A slew of emotions, always, every year. It’s part of the new life we live after great loss. Every year, there’s a part of me that expects it to be a little easier, every year I ache the same, I long the same, I remember there is cause for celebration, just as if he were here and not there.

Every year it feels right to celebrate him on his earthly birthday, and feels wrong not to.

Our neighbors and friends have opened up and asked that we include them in celebrating our Zekey with them. There’s a really big story as to why this is, and it deserves a whole other blog post. So, even though none of these friends knew or met our Zekey on earth, they wanted to be there for us to celebrate his birthday and show their love for us and him. Not out of pity but because they care and love us.

This year, we decided we would let them in more, in a sacred and holy space and basically test the waters. How would this go? How would this feel? Andy brought this idea up on a walk and hesitantly, I put out a text, and invited a few friends to celebrate a day early.

Yesterday was that day. Andy made chili, I made corn bread, a friend made the dessert for the allergy needs and Giant Eagle made the birthday cake which read, “We love you, Zekey!”

We hugged lots, the kids and their friends bustled around, adults hung out and talked, I drank red wine out of a snowflake covered dixie cup and our whole home felt warm and full of love. As I was walked over to the kitchen sink, I heard God say, “This is holy space.” And it truly was.

After chili, we sat around the TV and watched “The Zekey Movie” that Andy made for his funeral which is full of some pictures and videos showing the timeline of his life. The memories alway bring me to tears and I’d say I wasn’t alone last night. We hesitated showing this video because of my own issues of carrying the weight of what others may think or feel. During the party and before we showed the video, I was still undecided and expressed that to my friend who also knows the sting of loss. She said, “We aren’t here for you to make us feel comfortable, we are here for Zekey and remembering him with you so don’t worry about us.” And I needed to hear that.

After showing the video, more hugs came, more tears. We lightened the mood and sang happy birthday to Zekey and ate good cake.

Instead of capturing every single moment with pictures, although some pictures I did take! I captured them in my heart and believe God will remind me of these sweet memories again. Those of kids hugging kids to show they care, adults hugging and sharing their hearts, tears….those are for my heart and I’m grateful.

I felt Romans 12:15 with our friends last night: “Be happy with those who are happy and weep with those who weep.” I feel it with every text rolling in today. We are so blessed.

After school, Bexley had dance and Eisley had choir, then we all gathered together to eat leftover chili and talk of favorite memories of our beloved son and brother. We ate more cake after singing happy birthday and watched old home videos, some of which I have never seen. We laughed a lot and it was sweet.

Sweet Ezekiel Todd Holt, your light and joy and life are worth celebrating every year on this day. Your life and the earthly loss we feel is worth pushing through the sting as we thank God for you and the life we got to have with you and all the sweetness and joy, laughter and light you brought to us. We thank God also for the grace of the cross that made a way for the glory to come for us, that you live out now in heaven with Jesus, free of disease and pain.

I love you every day. Every day you are missed. You make the thought of heaven sweeter. I love you, so many love you.

Happy 9th birthday, Zekey.

A sweet poem from dad here.


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