As I mentioned previously, this past weekend I was in Utah giving a Keynote Address to a conference about the evolution of women in social media. It included a power point component, and as soon as I got up to the podium, I clicked to start my presentation and instead the screen said, “Windows is shutting down.” Greeeeeat. I don’t know what the heck happened. I’m a Mac not a PC! Luckily, there were tech guys there that did their wizardry, and then I got a fancy clicker remote doohickey that allowed me to control my presentation without the stupid powered off computer. Heather 1, Windows 0.
I think it went well. I felt good about it. People ask me how I get up and talk about such emotional things and the answer is…I don’t know. I do it because I have to. I do it because it lets me tell more people about Madeline. She is still here when I talk about her, and when people want to listen (or if I have a captive audience) I am going to spread her story.
Does my nose always look like that?
Annabel and St. Gramma went along on the trip, and it was so wonderful to have them there. My parents don’t often get to hear me speak since I usually am out of state when I do, so it was great to have my mom in the audience holding my best girl, Annie.
Utah is gorgeous. The conference was in Park City and I kind of want to move there, except for two things: The air is so dry that I had to put Vaseline up my nose to keep it from shattering into a million pieces; and beer tastes different there. We explored the mountains and I was in awe of Park City’s natural beauty – I bet it’s amazing in the winter.
St. Gramma and I also went on a crazy-fun zip line, but the ending was abrupt and I swore so loudly from surprise that I’m pretty sure Utah was happy to see me and my potty mouth go.
I came home today in time to celebrate my birthday! I am now 31 – or as I have decided to call it, Thirty Fun (attitude is everything, right?). Mike picked us up at the airport, and had some cute little presents waiting for me at home, including a giant balloon that equally mesmerizes and terrifies Annabel.
Annabel’s present to me was screaming when our plane took off, then passing out for the remainder of the flight. It took the entire flight for my heart to drop back into a normal rhythm, and we won’t speak of the flop sweat.
The best present is my family. My daughters Madeline and Annabel, my husband Mike, my dog Rigby. I wish desperately my Maddie was here with me today. It is my second birthday without her. I only got to spend one with her. Would she have helped Mike pick out a gift? Colored on my birthday card? Helped me blow out my candle? The what-ifs that will haunt me the rest of my life are particularly strong on special days. They can be suffocating.
Happy Birthday, Heather.
I think Madeline is celebrating you every day, just like you told her that you would.
In Due Time says:
I wish I would have been able to see you speak. You’re amazing in text, so I can only imagine how you are in person!
I wish Maddie was there to be with you on your birthday, too. Physically, I mean. We know she’s always there in your heart.
Love you Heather! xoxo
ioh I out profaned you. You just said fck me. I said Jesus fck. On the cleavagecam. For posterity.
Happy Birthday Heather!
So much joy and yet so much pain. I’m proud of you and your speeches. I’m glad you are surrounded by family and so much love. I always wonder what new pictures and videos of Maddie you would share, how the girls would play.
I agree, I think she’s celebrating with you, lots of smiles and her beautiful eyes.
Catherine Lucas says:
Happy birthday! Even if it is and will forever be a mixed feelings day. I sometimes think that we should give up all those special dates… Grieving makes them harder to bare. Special dates are upsetting if people are unhappy, and so many people are unhappy. Fluctuating life moments… sigh
Happy birthday, Heather. I know days like this will always be bittersweet and tinged with the awful what ifs.
Turns out we have one more thing in common – our age! I’ll be 31 in a couple of months also.
Thinking of you and your lovely family today.
love you lady. wish i could have been with you to celebrate.. and eat good food.
i adore you.
oh, i see the bobble heads looking at me.
Amy K says:
Happy birthday! That bottom photo of you and Annie (and the bobbleheads) is just priceless.
I agree :))
Happy Birthday Heather! I hope you had a lovely day….and I LOVE the last photo….Beautiful!
Marti from Michigan says:
Happy birthday Heather! 30-fun is a great way to become 31. My father used to reverse his numbers, so when he turned 80, he said he was really turning 08. So, if you want to, you can be 13! In my case, I am 95 (59). That is not a good reverse!
I too am glad your mom and Annie were there for you. I am terrified of zip lines! We have one at the zoo in my city, and I nearly dropped my brain when I went on that thing. Never again!
I know Maddie is celebrating with you. I bet she has something wonderful for you to see – like another purple sunset, or some super special butterfly, or something in nature for you to see. When you see it, it is your gift from Maddie and you will know.
HUGS from Michigan!
Sara K. says:
Happy Birthday, Heather!! Thirty-fun is an awesome age, wish I had thought of it! I love the last pic Annie looks like she is wearing a crown of flowers, and you look gorgeous!!
Happy Birthday! Utah looked lovely (who knew).
Happy Birthday, Heather. May you have a happy day with your lovely family and your wonderful memories….
Happy Birthday. I hope this years brings joy upon joy and that you make new memories with Annie, Mike, Rigby and your sweet Maddie spirit.
I am sure it’s not enough but I hope you feel Maddie close by in spirit and the memories and dreams of your girl are good on your birthday.
I had to look twice at the last picture. I thought you found a new wig for Annie that made it look like flowers were growing out of her head, like an Anne Geddes picture.
Linda Campbell says:
Happy Birthday Heather! It’s hard to believe you are only 31, you have been through more unhappines than most 90 year olds!
I’m sorry again for all your heartache. We all share it with you and miss Maddie. The last of this post made me cry, again.
I hope you managed to have a nice birthday though!! ANd hope that what your friends say is true, that you will celebrate all month long!!
Have fun! Cheers! xo
dysfunctional mom says:
Happy Birthday! I LOVE that last picture of you and your baby girl.
Thinking of you & Maddie.
I hope that you had a great birthday, Heather! The photos of Utah are very pretty, but the ones of your Mom, you, & Annie are absolutely beautiful!
I’m sure that Maddie would have done all of those things, that you mentioned, while getting ready to celebrate her Mommy’s birthday. Many hugs to you, sweetheart, as you think about your precious little Maddie…………………..
Mike, how on earth did you get Annie to grow flowers out of the top of her head for her Mommy’s special day? That is amazing!
Katie in WI says:
Happy Birthday Heather!!!
Love the picture of you and Annie, so sweet.
Mary Ann says:
Happy Birthday Heather!
Fairly Odd Mother says:
Happy Happy Birthday to you Heather!!!
Jen L. says:
I wish Maddie was with you, too. Happy 30-fun!
You know, I’ve always thought you looked just like Bampa, but MAN, do you have your mom’s cheekbones! Love them.
Happy birthday, and being in your thirties is… fun? (ha ha)
31 was more traumatic than 30 for me, but 32 was a cake walk – despite my entire family forgetting it!
I know every birthday and holiday is a struggle once you’ve lost a child but if you wake up, get out of bed and spread her story… then you’re ahead of the game already. Everything else is a bonus
Happy THIRTY FUN birthday! Utah does look beautiful, love those pictures. Annabel looks so much like Mike (do you love or hate hearing that all the time?).
And P.S. I see nothing wrong with your nose in the picture.
I love that last picture….Annie is so adorable. Happy 31st birthday to you!! And I give you giant props for doing the zipline…..I got a little bit barfy just LOOKING at that one picture since heights are NOT my friend.
Adventures In Babywearing says:
I totally wish I would have thought of that when I was thirty-fun. Not sure what I could call 33 except maybe thirty-me. This year has been a lot about getting back to “me.”
Lynn from For Love or Funny says:
Wishing you a happy Thirty Fun! Your pics of Park City are gorgeous!
Heather, I can really relate to your feelings about public speaking. I lost my daughter Liz in Sept. 03 (she was 20) and after several years I felt called to speak publicly about her death and my grief journey that followed. I questioned my sanity numerous times as I prepared for that first presentation! In the end I gave up to God and it went wonderfully. I was able to speak with emotion but without becoming emotional … and I actually enjoyed it. I speak regularly now and if I can help others with their grief journies it is totally worth it. Also I know that my Liz is so very proud of her old Mama and I do it always in her honor. We are still a Team and always will be!
You and Maddie will always be a Team too!
I know you miss Maddie, I too wish she could have spent your b-day with you but, I believe with all of my heart, she was there….right beside you. I’m glad your mom got to hear you speak…I’m sure she was very proud!!!
Take Care and again Happy B-Day!
J in eire says:
Wishing you a very happy birthday, I hope you can feel the love & comfort being sent your way, through these days.
I love that last picture of you and Annie… and I love The Office bobbleheads behind you. Happy Birthday!
rachel cortest says:
Happy Birthday Heather!! I guess 58 is Fifty Great! I have a 31 year old daughter who was like another mom to Tomas. Annie is just beautiful. I wish that Maddie were there with you also. It sucks.
Happy 30-fun! I hope it was amazing!!
Wishing you lots of birthday love and thoughts and wishes of your lovely Madeline. I hate that she’s not physically there with you, but she’s definitely in your spirit. And millions of thoughts and prayers around the world.
XOXO from GA,
Thirty Fun, I love it. Happy Birthday.
Utah looks beautiful. I so wish I could have made it to that conference. It sounds and looks like it was great.
Maddie is with you in spirit. I can only imagine how deafening and heart wrenching the what-ifs are. I wish she was there coloring a special birthday card for you.
Love and hugs mama.
Happy belated birthday; glad you had a good trip and are home safe with your family. All of them.
Happy Birthday, Heather!
I love the last picture with you and Annie! And…Utah looks BEAUTIFUL!
Happy Birthday Heather.
As for your nose question, I think it’s lovely.
Sending you lots of birthday wishes all the way from Luxembourg for your Thirty Fun birthday. I’m so glad to read that Mike made sure you celebrated in style (what a great hubby) and that you had such a special trip with Miss Annie and St. Gramma. I’m sure your precious Miss Maddie is eating birthday cake to celebrate with you, her amazing Mama. You are such an amazing lady, Heather, and you are surrounded by amazing people in your life – the love you all have for one another can always be felt through your words. I haven’t had time to comment for a while now (being Mum to a 22 month old and 5 week old is keeping me very busy) but I think about you all and especially your precious Maddie every day.
Lots of love
Erica in Luxembourg
Susan A says:
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Heather!! Love that pic of you and Annie! Wishing for many happy fun days ahead for you.
Happy birthday, Heather.
Snickrsnack Katie says:
I’ll be thirty-fun in four months. Yikes.
HAPPY (ever so slightly belated) BIRTHDAY! I’m going to keep the “fun” thing in mind when my next birthday rolls around. I’ll be twenty fun (it works to replace 7 too, right??)
I’m happy to read that your talk went well, minus goofy Windows. Annie looks downright PRECIOUS with that bow on her head! She looks like she knows it too.
I have told you before, that my son was diagnosed with a disability at age 2. Although it is nothing like losing a child, it was emotional and we grieved for the future we were planning for him. I talk about it and it annoys many people. I blog about it now, and am waiting for those nasty comments.
In the end, you do what is best for you and your family and from the looks of things, you are there girl!
So proud of you for continuing Maddie’s legacy and allowing her to live on in our hearts. You are an awesome mommy and will probably experience bitter-sweet memories of Maddie with everything Annabel does. In that way, she will live on and although you will hurt…there is nothing else you would do, if given the choice.
I would have loved to hear you speak. I am sure that maddie is so proud of you and had her own little birthday party for you up in heaven! Happy Birthday Heather! Hugs to you.
Happy ‘Thirty Fun’ birthday. Annie looks so much like Mike in that last picture…too cute!
Happy Birthday Heather!! I hope you have a wonderful day,…and I just bet Maddie is celebrating with you somewhere…she knows it is her mamma’s birthday!
Happy Birthday, love the pictures, Utah looks gorgeous. Have a great day!!
Happy Birthday Heather!!!! Hope you have a great day.
Happy birthday Heather! Your hair looks gorgeous in the last photo, and Annie is so precious. I wish maddie could be here with you, too.
Happy (late) birthday!
I’m glad you enjoyed Park City— that’s pretty near my stomping grounds in Salt Lake, and yes, it’s so dry here that it’s insane. My hair dries fast, though (massive load of hair). I’ve never mustered up the courage to go on the zip lines, so maybe that’s the best in Utah.
Thinking you and Maddie on your birthday and all days.
Lisa from WV says:
Birthday wishes, hugs, warm thoughts. And you look absolutely beautiful in all of your pics btw.
Happy Birthday my love. It was SO good to see you and snuggle on that baby this weekend.
I know the pain of those special days without the babes…keep hanging on love.
Yay for thirty FUN! I know Maddie would have a blast celebrating birthdays… just like her mommy.
The last picture is fantastic. Some pretty ladies there.
Happy Birthday Beautiful Lady!! I’m also 3-1…and it has been a wonderful year of fun so get ready to live it up.
Thank you for continuing to share your fabulous family with us. We you all!
Happy Birthday beautiful! I too would love to hear your speech. Sorry your birthday is bittersweet for you, missing Maddie on your birthday, I just cannot imagine. Love the pic of Annie, that face makes me melt every time.
Happy birthday! It sounds like you had an amazing weekend! Those are great photos and the picture of Annie and you is precious.
I wish Maddie was still here with you…I try to imagine what you are feeling from what you write and then I think I should probably multiply that by 1000 or maybe a million. I’m so glad that you had those 17 precious months with her and that she was and is a beautiful part of this world.
Momma Lioness Michele says:
Happy Birthday to you and your brother, Heather! Sounds like Utah was a success – congratulations! Thinking of you and your family especially on the bittersweet days.
I bet you are an awesome speaker!
I can’t get over how much Annie resembles your hubby in the last photo!
And last but certainly not least, happy birthday!!!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY HEATHER!!! I hope it’s wonderful.
Law School Wife says:
That is a stunning picture of you and Annabel!
I basically just concur with almost all of the messages above me. I really hope/wish I get to see you speak sometime. I think that would be absolutely incredible.
And Maddie is there with you. I know you can feel her there…giggling at the balloon, giggling at her silly family. She is absolutely there with you every second.
Oh, and I am turning 30 (gasp) in October. Any fun advice for that? I am PETRIFIED and not sure if I should just ignore it. Will it go away? Can i just claim to stay 29 forever? Will I be as awesome as you??!! (that was just a faroff wish)
Happy Birthday!! I’m glad your speech went well. Your Maddie will never be forgotten. Hope you have a great week with Mike and Annie.
Love from Texas,
Bobbi Janay @When did I go from a kid to a grown up? says:
IT was so great to meet you, Annie, and Your Mom. I am sorry I cried so much, you just moved me and made me realize how lucky my family is. Happy Thirty Fun Birthday.
Happy Belated B-day! Though I think I wished you this early but then again, my memory is hosed these days.
Annie Y says:
I hope you had a great birthday and enjoyed your extra hour!
Love the picture of you and Annie at the end!
Gale @ Ten Dollar Thoughts says:
It is such a comfort to see your smiling face when reading such grief-stricken thoughts as in your last paragraph. Happy Birthday.
Aunt Becky says:
Happy Birthday, lover. I’ll be in LA to hump your butt soon. Oh yeah, and you’ll loooove it.
I’ve never met you but I’m starting to notice that in pictures you’re beginning to look like your old self again–happy and radiant. I’m so glad that speaking about Maddie makes you feel that way. I know your life will never be the same again, but I’m glad to see you looking full of life again even though you must desperately must your daughter.
…I meant “miss” your daughter…
Michelle W says:
First, you are beautiful! Even though I understand that in all the joy you are experiencing there is always grief it still manages to catch me off guard and take my breath away. Understand I never forget Maddie and think of her in your joyful moments too.
Happy Birthday Heather!
Happy Birthday again! Sorry about those Dodgers. Well not really.
And Maddy is still there, always there in your heart.
Born and raised in UT, now live in VA. I’m so glad you enjoyed your time there. (They water down the beer. Part of state law.) I think it’s wonderful that you get out and share Maddie’s story. She brings light into peoples’ lives in every form.
Oh Heather, Happy Birthday to you! I wish with all my mommy-might that Maddie was there to color on your card. I know you are making her so proud, and you are doing a wonderful job of keeping her memory alive and helping so many others. You deserve the BEST of birthdays….and a wonderful year, full of smiles and joy and peace.
Those photos are beautiful, by the way….of Utah and all it’s glory. It is such a pretty state. Being a California girl, though, I doubt I would do well in the snow during the winter months. But yea, I bet it’s so pretty during that time!
you inspire me. happy belated b-day girl!
all the best for 31
You are SO beautiful (inside and out) and I hope you had an amazing birthday. I love the bobbleheads in the last picture! Love and blessings to you and your family.
Happy Belated BDay! Today is my first birthday without my little man and it’s pure torture without him, but so glad I have my other little dude.
Happy Birthday Heather!!
Amy in OHio says:
Happy birthday Heather! The picture of you holding Annie is beautiful. She is so precious!
Lenora Dody says:
Happy Birthday! Great photos! You look so pretty and you really got some great photos of Utah. I’ve been through there and didn’t realize it was that breathtaking. I’m glad your mom and Annie got to go with you to your speaking engagement. And I hope Mike didn’t eat on the couch while you were gone! ha ha!!! … If that genie that gives three wishes ever gave me my three, I’d use one of them for you to have Maddie back with you guys. I know all of us here would. We love to remember her with you and always will. … Hope your 31st year is off to a great start! (((hugs)))
Sometimes the things you write take MY breath away! You are so strong, believe that lady!! You have so many people pulling for you and Mike and your sweet family. Happy Birthday. You look very happy in the pics and that little chunk of love is friggin’ adorable, St. Gramma is a pretty lady and looks like she enjoyed the trip!!
Happy Birthday, Heather! I wish Maddie were here with you this birthday, too. Thank you for everything you do for the grief and loss community. It is inspiring to watch you living your life and honoring Maddie in everything you do. (((Hugs)))
moosh in indy. says:
The beer tastes different because it’s glorified water.
Having you in my “home” felt lovely. Like it completed a circle. I’ve been in yours, you’ve been in mine. I like it.
Although I’m all done having babies and my son is almost old enough to not need a stroller anymore, I so want your stroller. That’s one nice ride Annie has!
Happy birthday! Thirty FUN clearly suits you; you look gorgeous!
The beer tastes different in Utah because of alcohol %s or something like that (blame it on the mormons I think?) why do i know these things?
Happy Birthday, Heather!
I’m a Mac, not a PC. Snort. I love that. ME TOO. Ahem.
Happy birthday darling. Hope Thirty Fun is a fantastic year.
Gah, am I the only one who wants to eat up Miss Annabel’s cheeks in that picture with your mom? Sigh. Love her cheeeeeks.
Happy birthday, Heather!
Lisa V says:
Hey I live like 40 minutes away from Park City! I had no idea you were going to be here, guess I missed that blog! Any who Happy Birthday!
Happy Birthday! When you are a hoary crone of almost 36 (like myself) you will realize that at 31 you are still a spring chicken!
You are a gift Heather. Your Mom must be so proud of you. Happy Birthday 31st sweet girl. You are amazing.
Happy Thirty-Fun, my dear
Alicia @bethsix says:
So, I am 34. Tried to think of good things to call myself. Could only think of Thirty-Poor… and then Thirty-Whore… and then Dirty Whore…
yeah, Utah beer is only 3.5%, half of normal… Too pretty of a state to let that matter Happy birthday!
Trisha Vargas says:
Happy Birthday Heather!
The picture of you & Annie is amazing
(((HUGS))) from Florida
I hope you had a wonderful birthday!! Wishing I’d been there to hear you speak…
Happy Birthday Love!! xoxoxoxoxo
Lindsay, formerly from Florida, on the road to Boston =) says:
Happy Birthday, Heather!!! I want so badly for it to be truly and fully “happy” for you. I am terribly sorry that both your daughters couldn’t share Thirty Fun with you.
What a perfect picture of you and Annie … what an awesome mom to go zip lining with you … what a fabulous way for you to spread Maddie’s story in Utah.
You never stop amazing me.
On a lighter note, I’m totally digging the bobble heads in the background of your last picture of you and Annie!
Happy Birthday – I’m also “thirty-fun”!
You and Annie look FABULOUS in that last shot. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!
Happy Birthday Heather! Annie is GORGEOUS!!! XX
Seriously, could she be any cuter?? Oh my gosh, I just want to smooch her sweet chubby cheeks! I heart Annie!
I’m glad you had a great time in Utah. Happy Birthday to you!
Annabel is so gorgeous. Love those cheeks! And the big eyes!
You and Mike make some beautiful girls .
I too wish so badly that your little Maddie Moo could be there coloring on your birthday card and sticking her two year old fingers in your cake behind your back, but all I can give you is one giant internet-riffic birthday hug and wish you the very best.
I wish you a very special birthday Heather. YAY for thirty FUN!
Happy Birthday, Heather
And the blow in Annie’s hair – so stinkin’ cute! I miss girl stuff!
ok~first: that last picture of you & Annie was freakin’ adorable!
2nd~you are truly an inspiration & your courage in the face of devistation, your strength in your vulnerability amaze me daily.
I know Madeline was celebrating w/you in spirit. How could she not be? I do know how hard special ocaisions (I hate that word~can never spell it right) are when someone is missing…it’s hard watching my niece grow while wishing my nephew was here trying to keep up with his older cousin… But I have to just imagine him here celebrating with us in spirit or (as you well know) the temptation to curl up & give up can overwhelm.
Again: you are a inspiration, a role-model & a woman of integrity. In a sense, you are Maddie’s legacy. She would be so proud of you.
She is always with you, honey, and always will be. Sending hugs from Utah – if I’d known you were coming (and was invited!) I would have been in your audience to cheer you on wildly and with gusto. You are strong and brave. I turned 43 on Saturday, so we must be the same sign – like you I am am pretty squishy on the inside of my crabshell.
You may think that you are paralyzed by the what if’s but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen someone come back from something so tragic and live as fully as you, appreciating everything you still have to be grateful for. You are such an inspiration.
Heather, I am sad for you that days that are supposed to be full of joy and fun and laughter, always cause you even more pain. I hope you are doing better today. I always think of you on your birthday, because it’s mine too. I turned 32 this year and am honoured to share a birthday with you. We also share a birthday with Stephanie Nielsen (nieniedialogues). The two of you have both suffered so much pain and loss, but are the most beautiful, strong women I have had the pleasure to meet through your words. I celebrate your life and maddie’s life on our birthday, by embracing the ones I love around me and appreciating every moment we have together. You are an inspiration heather. have a wonderful year! xoxox
I just love cathing up on your life. You write so beautifully and with such good humor, kind of a hard thing to do… KUDOS
Happy Birthday Heather
Also I just LOVE the Dwight, Micheal, and Andy bobble heads in the background. Little Annie has such cool parents!!!
Sorry I meant to add that your amazing Maddie is there with you. Even though that brings as little comfort as an empty KitKat wrapper, I truely believe it.
Lisa in Elijahland says:
Happy Belated Birthday Heather. LOVE the last picture of you and Annie. You’re both so gorgeous!
Happy birthday Heather.
My heart hurts for you for the absence of your dear Maddie. I’m so glad you get the opportunity to speak about her.
Lisa @ Early Morning Run says:
I’m so sorry I missed your Birthday! I totally love your attitude about turning 31. Only you would think of thirty-fun! I’ll have to tell Matt so he can embrace this next year!
Your pictures of Utah are beautiful!
What a beautiful picture of you and Annabel ! I hope that you had a great birthday!
Ugh..I’m late! Gee, Happy Belated Birthday! You continue to amaze and inspire me everyday. Pretty cool to have that from a stranger, huh? Seriously, you have a beautiful family! Love, the pics, especially little Annie looking up at her mama! ahhhhhh
Happy Belated Birthday!
As for the beer in Salt Lake, it’s all 3.2% alcohol except in “private clubs”. “Private” meaning that you pay $3-5 for a year long membership to drink real beer. It’s honestly the local running joke.
Absolutely beautiful scenery in SLC though. I’ve been there several times. If you have a chance to go around the December holidays, Temple Square is incredible with all the lights and decorations.