I’m breaking with tradition this year. It’s my birthday today, and I’m not going to ignore it!

I decided it on my walk this morning. (Walk, not run, because my now forty-four-year-old left ankle is still bothering me…)

I usually ignore my birthday for all the unoriginal reasons. I don’t like attention, and I am now (to quote my high school friend – you know who you are) mega-old. Completely middle-aged, and a full-on ajumma.

But this is what I realized this morning: I’m 44 years old today, but not even three months old as a mother who has suffered the ultimate loss. At times, I have felt like I was a million (the PICU is a super-ager, and I have done my time.) So really, why does it matter?

It matters, because Julianna only got five birthdays. It matters because life here is short and unpredictable, and we should celebrate when we have things to celebrate. And even when it seems like we don’t have anything to celebrate…we do. So celebrate it anyway.

I wondered what today would be like, my first birthday as Julianna’s mom – without Julianna. She would have made a card for me. (Rather, she would have directed someone to make the card, but the message would have been all hers). Maybe she would have given me another doll. (She had a hard time grasping the fact that Homie only bought me ONE Barbie. She found it cruel. And it was, mom, it was. A child cannot live on books alone…)

Julianna gave me so many gifts. Today, her gift is reminding me, yet again, that life is to be celebrated. And we gotta do it — with humor and style.

Here’s the humor:

Earlier this year…

I am looking at one of Julianna’s fancy dollhouses. It came from a book, and it’s made of cardboard, but it’s intricate and beautiful. I don’t have any pictures of it, but it was this one.

M: Wow, Julianna. This is so cool. We didn’t have stuff like this when I was your age.

J: looks surprised. Did you not have stores?


And the style:

I don’t know what we did on my birthday last, year, but this was Julianna exactly one year ago. She’s with Korean Barbie , Michelle Kwan Barbie and Make-A-Wish Barbie.



“Too much is never enough.” — JYS

And because gifts are better shared:

A dear friend of a dear friend created this amazing portrait of Julianna. She used my favorite picture (Julianna thought that she looked her “prettiest” here), and absolutely nailed it. I think that this is what she looks like in heaven.



A hand-cut creation by Oscar’s Printshop. I think that her work is beautiful.

Me: Isn’t this cool?

Steve: examines it and nods. Is that the poem I read, the one by that man…

Me: It was me! I wrote that!!





18 thoughts on “Mega-Old

  1. unsure how it works, but we do live forever Happy Birthday means you are in the club, Julianna already knows that…but I know you do too….Love IS a Superpower…maybe takes some little “smidges” for us to realize


  2. Birthday wishes from me, here, to you, out there. Julianna must be very satisfied that you decided to celebrate your day … it’s a continuation of the celebration of her life ♥


  3. Happy birthday, Michelle, and thanks for the beautiful post. Love the poem. With your permission, I’m going to “borrow” it. 🙂
    Oh, by the way, if you’re old (at your young age), what does that make me at almost 62??? LOL
    Big hug.


  4. Happy birthday, Michelle. I did not have the pleasure to meet Juliana in person but I am sure she would have want you to celebrate! So, enjoy your day, she will be smiling from above…Love


  5. Happy Birthday dear Michelle!
    I posted a pic on FB of us wearing our cool shirts today to celebrate your birthday!
    Don’t know if you can see it, and I can’t figure out how to post it here, but just wanted you to know!
    We are so blessed to know you and your family! And the shirts are great!


  6. May you be blessed beyond measure on your birthday. I received my Love is a Superpower shirt yesterday. It made me smile to remember your little girl. I think I will remember her each time I see it. She was a rare gem. May God help us find a cure for the awful disease we share.


  7. Happy birthday 2 days ago! Every day is like a birthday, the first time we enter that day. Every time we wake up from sleep. Every time we think a new thought. It must be hard to find joy, when you are missing J. It must be so hard… They say to find joy in life no matter what. Easier said than done. J loves you madly, and J wants you to be okay.


  8. Happy Birthday, mine is this month too…..I’ll turn the big 60! Got my shirt last week, not planning on wearing it but putting it in a frame along with the poem. Stand tall …. I think little J now has her arms around the world and I think is able to encompass us all, especially you and your family. She will enjoy your celebration through your eyes. Again Happy B-DAY.


  9. Happy birthday! Thank you for continuing to share all the love and lessons from Julianna’s life and yours. You all are angels sent to share this message of love being a super power. The gift of Julianna was that she observed everything and lived in the beautiful, sparkly, present moment with hope and with joy and with flair. Thanks for helping all of us to be even one tenth as present and mindful as J! Glad to hear you celebrated this year. 🙂


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