Wednesday was Piper’s first birthday. It’s been hard to write about it. It was a hard day. I felt like I was hanging on by a thread. There were moments during the day where I truly felt joy but most of the day I was trying to hold it together. I don’t usually prevent myself from letting it out but I felt like I needed to.

I’m good at comforting, teaching, disciplining, and I can be a silly or goofy mom. But Denny was the fun one. I would call him “Holiday Denny,” or “Vacation Denny,” because he was extra fun on vacation or on holidays. He would always let go of any stress and really enjoy the moment. He was so good at that. I’m not as good. I mean I’m fun, but he was the fun parent. He was the one to rough house or go on spontaneous outings and adventures. He bought all the toys and games and always had fun things planned for the kids. He dressed up every Halloween (even before kids) and always had some big idea of what to dress up as. He made every holiday a huge deal. He just made life so much more fun. When we had only been dating a month or two, he told me to pack my bags for warm weather for three or four days. He didn’t tell me where we were going until we got to security at the airport. He took me to Los Angeles and had the funnest few days planned. That was so Denny.

Our trip to LA IN 2013

Denny being gone for Piper’s first birthday made me feel pressure to be the fun one. We did have fun. But it definitely wasn’t the same. The night before I wrote here about how I couldn’t bring myself to buy her a toy. Late that evening we went to Target so I could finally get her just one thing. We were probably there for an hour and a half. Most of that was spent just staring at the toys. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. And I’d finally pick a toy and second guess it and put it back. That happened a dozen or so times. Does anyone really think a one year old cares about toys? If you do, you’re wrong. They like the box and tissue paper more than they like the actual toy.

So I picked a motorized train. She did end up loving it. Win for mom.

My incredibly talented best friend of 15 years showed up in the morning to take the most beautiful pictures of P(at end of post). Even when the girls were misbehaving and wild she somehow made them look like perfection.

The majority of the day consisted of people wishing her happy birthday or bringing by gifts, decorations, outfits- and someone even brought the cutest cake. People are so so good. We have been shown so much love, kindness, compassion, and generosity. I wish I could even keep track of all of the things people have done for us. It’s mind blowing and overwhelming.

We went to dinner with some of Denny’s closest friends, practically his family. It heals my heart when I am around people who know my Denny so well. These were the friends to tell me when we were dating that Denny was going to be the best dad that had ever existed. They were right. They also told me how kind and sweet and generous he was despite his prickly exterior. They were right about that one too.

These friends got cake and balloons and presents. They did the cutest little dinner for her. Piper loved it and ate that cake like it was her only purpose in life.

These are all little things that probably seem boring and unimportant to the average reader. But for me, in this position, it was everything. I needed this. I couldn’t have done this day without all of these angels showing up.

I didn’t lose it until I had loaded the girls up in the car and was saying goodbye. It just hit me. Everything. How grateful I was for them. How much I miss Denny. How bad I wish Piper had her daddy here for her first birthday. How broken I am for my girls. How this is just the beginning of many years of missing him for all of these big events. All of that. And these friends reminded me that it’s okay to fall apart.

The most important thing is that we did it. With the help of others, we did it. She had a good birthday. She loved her toys (and the boxes and tissue paper). She’s happy. We survived the first birthday without him. Many more to come, but we did it. It’s a huge step and a really big deal.

About Piper on her first birthday…

  • She is very chubby with the cutest rolls and seems to be following her sister in the (lack of) hair department.
  • She has the bluest eyes and she still has zero teeth. Not even a hint of one yet.
  • She definitely will let you know if she doesn’t like you. She has become much friendlier over the last few weeks with so many new people around. But she still doesn’t like most people.
  • She’s a very serious baby most of the time and it takes so much work to get her to giggle (but it’s so worth it).
  • She does have this smirk that she does often and it usually means she’s getting into trouble. She’s already climbing and getting into everything. Even a few months ago, she would grab something she wasn’t supposed to have. Denny would say “Piper…” and she would look at him, smirk, and crawl away as fast as she could. She’s sneaky.
  • She’s been walking for a good month now and it’s the cutest thing. She’s a pretty solid walker and can get where she needs to. But people keep saying it looks funny because she looks too little to be walking.
  • The only word she knows is “Dat.” She will point to things and say “dat.” So we think she knows that word? Haha. She babbles a lot but doesn’t say any real words. She does a lot of growling and screaming though to express what she needs.
  • She points, waves, blows kisses, claps, shakes her head “no,” and has a few other really cute tricks that she rarely shows off when I want her to.
  • She is definitively still a grumpy old grandpa in a fat baby girl body. Its adorable.

Her daddy must be so proud of her ❤️

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