My dearest PK,
This has now become a tradition for me. As I move into your birthday each year, then I set aside time to write you a letter reflecting on the past year. It is also a time where I just sit in the moment of how much I love and miss you and in the deep pain of not having you with us. This deep pain runs through my heart and mind. I love and miss you with all of me my sweet boy.
This year, I have spent some time remembering the last birthday of yours that I had the blessing of spending with you. I remember that the first thought of doing a birthday trip with you came from an idea that you had while you were on a basketball trip with your team. You all were staying at a motel, and you called me and were so excited. You told me how you all were watching a commercial on waterparks, and you said that you thought you could drive a group of your friends up to Wisconsin or down to San Antonio to go to a water park since you had been driving for a couple of years. I remember laughing and saying, “No way.” I also remember thinking well, it could be a fun 18th birthday trip. I could drive, and we could bring some of PK’s friends with us. You liked the idea once I shared it with you. We planned for Memorial Day weekend to be the time to go which was the weekend before your birthday. When the time came to go, then you brought three friends with us. The girls and I loaded up with you and your buddies when it was time and headed to San Antonio. I remember all of your joy from that trip. I remember how much fun you had with your friends. I remember all of the laughter.
You had such a joy for life PK. I miss being around your joy and laughter and zest for living. Oh how much fun it was to be with you. The trip was such a blast. I am so glad that we did it. One of my favorite memories is when we were all out walking down the streets of San Antonio and the SPURS had just beaten the grizzlies which I believe advanced them to the finals. The Spurs fans were so excited and were driving through the streets honking and yelling “Spurs!” When you saw what was going on then your whole face lit up, and as usual you joined in the fun! You started yelling about the Spurs and became a part of the excitement on the streets. This was so funny to me because at that time you were a Celtics fan. However, your personality was always so much fun, and there was no way that you were not going to enjoy this moment of celebrating with the fans in San Antonio as they celebrated their team’s victory and advancement. I can picture your face PK. I can see all of the joy and excitement. Oh how I miss that joy and excitement of your personality so very much.
My heart has also been remembering your first birthday and how excited you were. People were stopping in to eat and to wish you happy birthday. You were so excited about each person who came over, and you had so much fun running around with your balloons and throwing them to each person that came. You were always a joy bringer PK. From the moment that you arrived, you brought so much joy to my heart and to those around you. I miss your love, your joy, your smile, your excitement. You were just so much fun to be around. The zest that you had for life just brought such an excitement to whatever we were doing. Oh how I miss you my sweet boy!
I am spending time with people that are grieving those special ones who have died in their lives, and I share with them that joy and gratitude can coexist with our pain and grief as we travel through our days. It seems like a concept that is not possible; however, I see it in our lives often. These memories are such an example of that. As I am sitting here with my heart filled with such pain and longing for you, then simultaneously, I have such joy and gratitude for each moment that I had with you including these treasured ones that I just shared. I love you my PK with all of my heart. I miss you with every part of me.
Joy and gratitude are able to coexist with our pain and grief.
This past year has brought some exciting, joyous moments to our family. Kylee graduated with her masters in health promotions and completed her 6 years at UCA. She started a wonderful full time job last summer that she loves. She is working in a wonderful hospital with the leadership team and has made such exciting connections as she learns from this team and develops relationships with them. She is serving at our church with the students (7-12 graders) and just got back from a missions trip to Puerto Rico. She is dating Jamal who is a wonderful young man that I think that you would have truly enjoyed. We all sure do! Kylee has quickly made a lot of special new friendships through church and her workplace. It is such a blessing to see her thriving and enjoying so much of the season that she is in.
MiKayla and Benton were married July 31st of last year. Oh how we missed you at the wedding. The wedding was beautiful, and in spite of the pandemic, we were surrounded with over 300 dear family members and friends that came to celebrate with us. We were so thankful for each one who came and surrounded Benton and MiKayla with love. However, it was sure another example of how joy and sorrow can coexist. Celebrating the marriage of Benton and MiKayla was so joyous and exciting for us all; however, the girls and I each had deep moments of pain during the celebration of missing you and dad so much and wishing with all of our hearts that you were both there to celebrate with us.
MiKayla and Benton are doing well. Benton had graduated with a business degree before they were married. Benton is working while your sister finishes and then he plans to attend seminary. He is currently working with a realty company, and we all anticipate that he will do so well as he uses his incredible gifts of connecting with people and engaging them. Your sister just started her masters/internship program, and she will complete that in August 2023 and then will be a registered dietician. She is very happy with her new season of life of being married to Benton, and she loves him very much. They love their church family dearly and have made some wonderful new friends there. Her university gave her a GA position and so it looks like that she will have all of this last phase paid for, and we are so excited for her to finish. It is such a blessing to see them having so much joy as they begin their lives together.
I so wish that you would have been able to meet Benton. He is such a blessing to us. He loves MiKayla so very much. It is such a blessing for my heart to watch them together. I love watching how he is with Kylee. He has been so wonderful to her from the start. His relationship with Kylee reminds me of how dad’s relationship was with my sister Kim. I remember that dad could say about anything to Kim, and she would just laugh. Benton is the same way with Kylee. MiKayla and I laugh because we can see that she has so much joy with him and that there is no way that either of us would be able to say some of the things that he is able to with her. You would appreciate the way he is with me PK as he is very loving with me. He has such a bright, analytic mind which makes him so much fun to discuss beliefs and issues with. I truly love my talks with him, and I love watching how he connects with others. Most importantly, he loves Jesus and your sister so much. I am so thankful that he is a part of our family. It has been such a blessing to see our family grow. Oh how I wish that you would have had the blessing of knowing him and for him to know you.
The scholarship program in honor of your memory continues to do so well. Fundraising has been a challenge in the midst of the pandemic, but we are so thankful for all those who have given and helped us to continue it. So far, we have given out $26,000 in scholarships in honor of you my sweet boy! Isn’t that special? That is absolutely one of the best things that I have the honor of doing each year PK. Our family all agrees that you would be so proud of that! What a blessing it is for my heart to bless others in honor of you. I know that would bring you so much joy!
We have given out $26,000 in scholarships in honor of you PK!
I continue to watch your friends get married and have babies! Jackson, Lexie, and Garrett and Sydney are all married, and each family has a baby now. Kirkendoll and Delaney and Spencer just got married recently. This also is such an emotional mix for me. I am so excited for each of your precious friends, and the joy that they are having as they build their futures and their families. But oh how I wish that I would have been able to see that with you. I would have loved to see you get married and have babies. You were always so wonderful with kids. It would have been such a joy to watch you be a dad. I would have loved that PK. I always wonder now what you would have majored in and what kind of job that you would be working at. My grief for you is always filled with such a combination of all of the things that I miss about you and what you brought to our lives, and simultaneously, it is filled with all that I still wish that I would have been able to experience with you.
I am forever grateful for each moment that I had with you PK. Each moment of those 18 plus years that I had with you is priceless. I carry you deep in my heart into each new day that I experience. My love for you will always remain. It will never fade. Thank you for being one of the three best gifts of my entire life.
If I could choose any boy in the whole world to be my boy, my sweet PK, I would choose you every time.
I love and miss you for always my precious PK. Happy 27th birthday.
Loving and missing you for always and with all of me,