Dear Jakey,

Wow, I did it again. I let an absurd amount of time go by between letters and I have been procrastinating this one for too long. So much has happened that I wanted to tell you about. So many things: happy and sad yet I never made the time. I don’t know why I let that happen but I do. And now I am annoyed because it seems I only reach out to you when things are the hardest and that doesn’t seem so fair to you. Last time I wrote was in December when we were struggling with 4 years without you. And now I am writing as we enter the other crappy stretch. Sometimes it seems like this time of year is even worse than December. To think that you are turning 9 in a few weeks blows my mind. It is so hard for me to picture you at 9. I remember Ethan turning 9 and thinking about it being his last single digit birthday. This is yours coming up but the milestone is sad, not exciting. And the JHFH event is 12 days away. And it is the 5th one. And all I can really think about is that it is the beginning of another landmark – 5 years without you. It makes me so sad to think about what that really represents – all that has happened in 5 years. I keep thinking about the day you died, before I knew it would be the day you died. When I was just hanging on the couch with you and that was enough. Those were my days. Heath stopped by to visit me and you but you were enough to fill my days. Now my days are filled with so much other stuff and I really just miss the days with you so much. I would give absolutely anything to go back to that.

And I wonder when the pissed off part of all this will go away. The part that creeps up around this time each year. The frustration with others. With friends complaining about their issues – which as real as they are, still manage to upset me. Because I would give a lot to have those struggles with you. To have the luxury of worrying about the things that they worry about. And then I feel bad because maybe I should worry about those things everyone worries about with Ethan but I mostly don’t. Because nothing is really that big a deal. Nothing really is as important as you think when it can all just change so quickly.

And I think about people in the beginning of this struggle with loss. And sometimes I think I can help and other times I don’t. I remember how important it was for me to know I wasn’t alone struggling with loss but I also know that no one can feel your pain in the way you do. And that when people presume that they can it sometimes makes it so much worse. We had losses this year – we lost Ashlyn just a few weeks ago. She was a fighter like you and I suspect you and her have found a way to connect in Heaven. At least I like to think that you have. Similar to you, she was dealt a tough hand in life with an extraordinary amount for her poor body to handle. She fought it well though and I am grateful that JHFH was able to support her and get to know her and her family. Knowing them as helped me as much as it helped them I think.

Mrs. Billok also passed away. You never met her here but I know you have since met her. It gives me comfort in my own selfish way that she is in Heaven too. She undoubtedly is taking care of you in a way that only a mom can and that makes me feel better. I just think of her family still here and how hard this journey remains.

I don’t know how to make sense of it still. I think of all the things I say about how the work we do with JHFH helps and how keeping your memory alive is so important. And it is all true but at the end of the day it doesn’t really feel like it’s enough. I just want to be getting ready for your last birthday in single digits. Not working on a JHFH fundraiser or thinking about how to celebrate your birthday without you or thinking about the Jake Alexander Memorial Scholarship. I just want for one second to be a normal mom with a soon to be 9-year-old boy on Earth.

I miss you so very much.