Dear Zama,

Today is your 3rd Birthday! Happy Birthday! I am in awe of the tremendous power you have at such a young age.

Today, in your name, I have thrown flowers into the ocean, written on and burned wish papers, and released a paper lantern to the heavens. But most of all today I’ve missed you. It’s your 3rd birthday but we’re not together.

Today is your 3rd birthday but 1 year ago this week you died.

Time is a tricky thing as it feels like yesterday you were in my arms. I can still feel your weight. Smell your smell. Hear your laugh. See your eyes. I pine for your physical body. You were born into my arms and a year ago you died in my arms. And although that thought still panics me, your memory empowers me to be more than a victim of tragedy, to uphold a better representation of who you really were, and what you’ve taught me.

Better than any person I’ve ever met, you radiate joy. Even now, your picture brings smiles to the faces of the onlookers. You have solidified in me the belief that joy and happiness are more a function of choice than a result of circumstance. I promise to attempt to uphold this concept, live my life to be happy, and to spread happiness to others as you have done.

The experience of our time together has demonstrated the finite nature of our reality. The only guarantee in the events of our lives is that everything is temporary. This is not something to fear or use as an excuse for inaction, but rather a reality that can allow us to be unattached to the things in our lives that do not matter, and pay closer attention to the things in our lives that do – to be grateful. I am grateful for every second we’ve had together: for all the games we’ve played, cuddles we’ve had, early mornings you had us up on, and messes I ultimately cleaned up. And in my gratefulness I find grounding. A place from where I might avoid slipping into self-pity and sadness.  I promise to attempt to be present and focused on the fantastic experiences in my life as they are happening and try not to get hung up on all the shit, to ground myself and be thankful for all of the luxuries I enjoy.

Know that the intensity of your death has forced an opening in my (and other’s) heart(s) that may not have been possible otherwise. It has strengthened my personal faith. I now view this challenge as an opportunity for higher self-realization. Surely we made an agreement, a soul contract, before coming to this reality. I applaud your bravery and thank you for following through. I love you even more because of this. In that moment in the hospital one year ago, for the first time in my life, I prayed. I prayed that I could take your place. But now I thank you for helping me maintain the path of experiences I am destined to have. Despite this potential destiny, I promise to live in action, to realize that we are in charge of how we react to life, and that how we react to our experiences and struggles has the power to make us stronger.

To forget you would be to forget myself, neither of which I wish or am capable of doing.

With immense long lasting love,

Your Daddy

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