Happy 4th Birthday Buddy

img_34831The reason I write in my blog is to connect with people. Not just from one segment of life, but from many.

And as part of the thread of stories I try to share experiences and observations in leadership, volunteerism, wellness, as well as some stories that are simply personal experiences that fall in none of those particular categories and, might, at times, be more personal.

Today’s entry is one of those. So if the personal aspect is too much, please skip this one today.

I write tonight sitting 3,000 miles away from Erica and my girls, celebrating in spirit the birthday of our son Levi. Who, five years ago today, was born and also died several hours later due to prematurity and a systemic infection that could not be avoided or treated.

Levi, my little friend, I’m not sure if Heaven is wired with Web 2.0, social networking, and blogs along with 802.11N Wifi. Maybe up there you’re on Web 10.0 and we’re just catching up. I’m not sure if you’re yet able to read, if you’re learning to read, perhaps someone is reading to you, or whether you’re even still a youth or not. Somehow, though, I think you will get this message in some way.

Raz Fam celebrating Levi's 2nd Birthday
Raz Fam celebrating Levi's 2nd Birth.

Today I just wanted to acknowledge my appreciation and love for you–especially because I’m on business travel and away from the rest of your family on this special day. I wish you were here so we could celebrate, even if remotely. And if you were here tonight I would call you on a Skype video, sing Happy Birthday to you, tell you how proud I am of you…I’d tell you how I’d take you out for cake and ice cream when I got back home, and we would do the things that dads and sons do–things like wrestle and horseplay on my return visit. We’d probably even break something valuable in the living room. 🙂 But it would be okay, because you would be with me–and I would be with you. And mom would look at us and smile with a look of “You boys…” and Royce and Zoe would be cackling and laughing in the background, all while trying to wrestle with us as well. Levi, we would have had a lot of fun–and I miss you.

Yet, as strange as this may sound, I am certain that God’s got all of those fun activities figured out for you–and more–right where you are.

It is rare that I can look at our family and see only four people; it generally feels like you are missing, and while some of the days that pass make missing you–and what I never got to know of you–easier, never will it be forgotten or a substitute for what a life with you in our family every day could have been like.

So, today’s posting is a simple one.

It’s just an open letter to you wishing you a Happy Fourth Birthday. To let you know that we all miss you so much, and I know we would be so proud of you on this day, yet we also have a sincere contentment that everything works out according to a plan.

It’s just that today, and at this very moment, I really don’t like the way this plan has worked out–even though I know it is for the best.

Happy Birthday my little friend, we miss you so much and I will see you someday soon.



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25 Replies to “Happy 4th Birthday Buddy”

  1. You are such a good daddy!!! I read RoZo your blog entry tonight before bed – we all cried. Thanks for loving us all, including Levi, and working so hard to bring The Best of Nature to Humankind.

  2. Tears are flowing in Indy…..tears of love for all of you and for the littlest Raz – Home with God.

  3. What a beautiful and touching post. I cried, too. It is very special to share in such an intimate time with your whole family in the post and comment, and I feel very honored.

    Erica, you sacrifice so much to have Rich do what he does. I feel very blessed to be a part of this company (I joined Tuesday). Thank you for doing this. You and all of your children are obviously so much a part of what he does and of what makes him who he is.

    It is a real privilege to “know” our leadership in this way. In years past this was never possible.

    Thank you again for the honor and the privilege.



  4. Rich,

    A touching post. It made me cry too. I always think about Levi around the Easter season. I love you, Erica, and the kids so much.

    Your sister,


  5. Rich.
    Great post. Our prayers are with you now and periodically as we remember Levi and your family. God bless you on your trip.

  6. Hi Rich,

    I have to tell you what an impact your blog has on me. I always love to hear your thoughts, but when I read your entry today I dissolved into a puddle of tears. You are such a real person.

    And I needed that today. Like a direct hotline to my heart, God used your words to remind me why I love Univera.

    I needed it today because one of the hot prospects on my list was trying to recruit me into their company, and it had me a little down.

    As I shared in your bare and vulnerable bittersweet grief I was flooded with this incredible peace that I am right where I belong.

    Your precious heart is an anchor for us, and I thank you for sharing your whole self like you do.

    Bless you,


  7. Hi Ginette,

    I am reading your comment as I drive (passenger seat!) on the way to Portland, Maine and it’s the highlight of my day. Thanks for reading the blog, but also for your nice posting–it is very humbling but also encouraging to me.

  8. Hey Jo Jo.

    Your kind words go to the heart–the girls have so much fun with you as their Auntie, you’re a great sister and friend.

  9. Raz,
    Thank you so much for sharing your heart feelings. It is very reassuring to be with a company that honors thoughtful, caring people like you. My very best wishes to you and your beautiful family!

  10. Raz,
    When I signed on as an associate of Univera I had a pretty good idea about the integrity of the company and it’s corporate team. After meeting you in Portland two weeks ago and now reading this post, I continue to be honored to be associated with Univera.

    I am so sorry for your family’s loss and am truly touched by your compassion. May God bless you and your family today and always.

    We truly appreciate the personal sacrifice you are making to help us succeed in bringing Bill Lee’s vision to life. Reno is your last stop, and we are anxiously awaiting the team’s arrival. See you soon!

    (member of the Reno ATM team)

  11. Hi Rita,

    Thanks for such kind words, it really means a lot. We are very excited to be seeing you and the rest of your team out in Reno, have a great week. I’ll see you soon!

  12. Raz,
    Your posting about Levi touched me deeply. You are an incredible teacher as well as a leader in demonstrating wisdom, perspective, faith, gratitude. Your family is so fortunate to have each other, and we in Univera are blessed to have you. Thank you for being you.

  13. Rich…..WOW, how could one not cry reading your touching post about your wonderful son! I can’t even imagine how you and Erica have gotten through such an unfortunate experience, other than to say Levi must be watching over you and your family, sending you his love and strength EVERY day. Children are such amazing blessings, and its hard to go through life guessing, or asking “Why” or “How”. So I am glad to know that you have put your faith in the Lord and realized that HE must have needed Levi for greater good…..and Levi is probably helping to rule the roost up there with all the angels! Many Happy Birthdays to him, and many blessings to you and your family.

  14. I am so sorry for the loss of your little boy and so grateful he was born into so much love, especially since he was here for so short a time. Thank you for sharing your heartbreak and giving us a chance to love your little “buddy,” too.

  15. Rich,
    What a touching B’Day tribute to your precious son. I know he would be so very proud of you for being his dad. You share so much of yourself with so many. What a blessed family to have such a heart felt Dad and Mentor as yourself!

    Peace Be With YOU Rich!

  16. Raz,
    You always seem to bring the most honest of life’s realities and place them in plan view. Grounding each and everyone of us in this moment and time, allowing each to review what has not only been painfully lost from our lives but what has also been most passionately won.

    Thank you


  17. Rich –
    Tears filled my eyes when I read this post. I know of your grief as we lost our first daughter, Mireya, almost eight years ago. It was such a shock since I had a full-term, healthy pregnancy that ended with a complication during the delivery. Like you, I believe there is a greater plan, and I’m sure our souls agreed to it, but it doesn’t take away the longing for what might have been. Thankfully, I have been blessed with another daughter who will celebrate her 4th birthday this week. Your girls are beautiful and are fortunate to have you for a dad.

    My deepest respect goes out to you for sharing your experience and honoring your son in such a heartfelt way. Blessings to you and your family, and may our angels continue to watch over us.

  18. Dear Rich,

    As I read your post, I too am touched by your most personal as well as univeral sharing and wishes for your son. And what remains with me now is a deep sense that he, your son, is now, is present tense, is growing alongside your family, is with you all moment by moment. WHat separates us in this world from the other is just a veil, and while that veil may seem so thick at times, it is just a veil, and love makes it through no problem, any time any where.

    Every blessing to you and your whole family, and thank your for sharing with the world your wonderful gift of a great Heart.


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