We celebrated Hugo’s second birthday on Saturday.
The lead-up felt challenging, with reminders and triggers of my admission to hospital, and everything that entailed.
After surviving the first anniversaries, Martin and I wanted to do more than just survive this year. Surviving is fine of course, and there is nothing wrong with simply surviving as a goal for difficult anniversaries. Indeed, sometimes simply surviving is an achievement in itself.
An aspiration to do more than survive this year came from the sentiment of wanting to honour our son’s memory by enjoying a life Hugo did not get to experience. It also derives from Hugo’s birthday being linked inextricably with the day that I could have died, meaning I wanted to try to celebrate and be grateful for the fact I am not dead.
Celebrating a birthday means buying gifts for that person. Buying a gift for your son who is no longer here to receive it can be a dilemma. We are faced with thinking not of what the latest trendy thing or cartoon character is and where to find said items, but what can be left outside in the elements in Hugo’s garden. The gift needs to be meaningful but robust – a difficult task.
His parents are of course equal to the task: we found this gorgeous little train that spells out Hugo’s name, and this solar-powered cat lamp. We also bought him some daffodils and tulips that are yet to open but will look magnificent when they bloom.
The day itself was, as before, challenging but not as terrible as anticipated. Even Oscar seemed to sense he needed to be gentle with me: usually he is nagging me before 6am to get up to give him his breakfast, but last Saturday he was kind enough to give me a lie in until 7am.
I’d asked people to share with me what they were grateful for. I was truly overwhelmed by the response. #HugosLegacy trended on Twitter for several hours as a result.
Part of the beauty of the social media activity was that it was organic – completely unplanned.
It is testament to the impact our tiny boy has had on the world.
Thank you so very much to everyone who took the time to send a message, either by social media or by text. It really does mean so very much.
We were also moved by the cards and gifts we received from kind family and friends:
Celebrating Hugo’s birthday in no way does it mean we are ‘better’, or no longer sad. The past week has brought some very low, upsetting days to endure, to survive.
Days where simply surviving has been an achievement.
We miss Hugo with every ounce of ourselves, and will forever wonder what our son would look like, be like, be doing at any given moment.
Celebrating Hugo’s birthday is about moving forward, not on.
Celebrating the beauty of life, despite its challenges.