Yesterday my family celebrated a little girl’s birthday that we all know and love. The celebration included balloons, dinner out, sharing photos of the birthday girl when she was a chunky little monkey, listening to the birthday girl’s favorite song, eating her favorite cake, wearing her favorite colors and being with her family. The only thing missing was the birthday girl.

You see, yesterday was Lily’s birthday. See the balloons in the photo? They were placed lovingly on her grave by her parents. See that big number 9? That’s how old Lily should be and see the other balloons? There are seven for the number of years she lived.

Driving into the cemetery yesterday and seeing those hurt in a way I can’t explain. And if it was that hard for me, what was it like for her parents? What was their day like as they remembered her birth, her first steps, her other firsts, her birthday parties even the one with a melted ice cream cake? Was there joy in all the memories or only sadness? I can’t get beyond how unfair it is that every year the age she should be will increase by one and the group of balloons will forever remain 7, and that there are no new photos of Lily, no new memories made with her family and friends, and no new funny stories about this last year.

We remember Lily through our words, this blog, our Lily Fund, and by loving and supporting her family but it never feels like enough. I want to take away this loss and make everything better but it isn’t possible. And because of this, we do as much as we can as an organization, as friends, as a community and as people. We just keep showing up, keep letting them know Lily isn’t forgotten and that she is important to all who knew her.