Happy 5th Birthday Buddy

Levi's 5th Birthday
Here’s my annual disclaimer:

The reason I write in my blog is to connect with people. Not just from one segment of life, but from many. Usually the focus revolves around finding your purpose, passion, and renewal.

And as part of the thread of stories I try to share experiences and observations in leadership, volunteerism, wellness, as well as some events 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. The first entry that I made a year ago was here: Happy 4th Birthday Buddy.

Here’s today’s entry…

Dear Levi,

Today marks what would have been your 5th birthday.

This year I’m home instead of on the road, and lots has changed in our life–some for the better, and other parts not so much. But we’ve learned a lot, and we’ve grown a lot. God has been really gracious with us, and me, more than I deserve I am sure.

Royce is getting to be such a great soccer player, and has become so exceptionally good at reading. At night she reads to Zoe, sometimes “illegally.” She has a little flashlight that she pulls out after we’ve turned the lights off and I often catch her continuing to read into the evening. Mom makes her stop :) (as she probably should) but the truth is I sneak in and give her a little thumbs up when I catch her reading and tell her it’s okay. She has such a heart for people, and an exceptional ability to communicate with others. And she’s intense, in a high-achiever way. Perhaps sometimes too intense (that’s probably from my DNA). I admire and love her passion and enthusiasm for life.

Zoe is amazing as well in her own unique way as well, she has such a compassionate heart. And is so incredibly creative. You should see (or maybe you did?) the latest “dog feeder” invention that she made out of who-knows-what materials–I can’t believe what she thinks up! I love it, every day it seems there’s a new contraption for me to scope out. Her ability to develop deep relationships and comprehend complex information is pretty amazing too. She processes so quickly, I love her ability to think thoughtfully and deeply for such a young kid.

I’m so proud of both of them, and so is Mom. And today I know we would be equally proud of you as well. I wish I knew your attributes that I could brag about, someday I’ll find out what those are specifically. I’m sure there would have been, or are, lots.

We talked about you a great deal this week, and more than ever, we miss you.

Yesterday and today, especially.

You might not know it, but Royce and Zoe each have their own “baby song”, which kind of represents them as a kid. This whole thing started with Royce, when she was in the hospital NICU as a preemie and we didn’t know whether she would live–or if she did the kind of life she would have. At many points the outlook was grave. During our daily drive to Morristown Hospital, Mom and I often would hear the song by Marvin Gaye (probably one of my favorite artists) “Aint No Mountain High Enough”, which came to symbolize our confidence and belief that everything would be okay with Royce.

Of course, we still play that song and think about those days. So, naturally, about a year ago Zoe wanted her own “baby” song that represented her! We chose, with a strong bias from Zoe, “I’ve Got a Feeling” by Black Eyed Peas!!! LOL. I think that’s hilarious. You can listen to the song, I think the lyrics are fine, but don’t watch the YouTube video–it’s a little too racy. Especially for up in Heaven. That could be awkward.

So you’re the last one without a song, and yesterday I thought we should pick a song for you on your 5th birthday. I wish you were here to help select it, but I think you’ll dig it. Unanimously we picked “I Can Only Imagine” by Mercy Me. Your mom thought of it first, I can’t tell you how much she misses you. It’s beyond words.

Some people have told us that every year this would get easier. And while time helps heal some things, it doesn’t seem true as it relates to missing you. Every year represents another year without you, and we’re both comforted and saddened as the years go by. levis-cupcake

This evening the girls made little cupcakes for you, RoZo decorated yours–it’s the one in the middle, with all the balloon candles. And we went to play laser tag–we’ve never done it before, but the kids thought it would be something you would enjoy doing so they picked it instead of going to some princess movie, which I don’t think you would have liked as well.

There’s one project that I was supposed to do for you several years ago. It’s been on my mind, and I know I’ve been negligent in finishing it and I’m really sorry about it. This is the year. I have to do it, and I want to make a commitment to you that I’ll get it done.

Tonight, as I wrote a year ago, I hope that this message gets to you somehow and in some way. I think it will. Know that we love you so deeply, and we’re so glad that we even had you for a few hours. I wish it had been many years, but the hours and memories that have ensued are better than never having the gift of you in our lives.

Levi, here’s your “baby song.” I hope you enjoy it. Whenever we hear it we’ll think of you.

I love you buddy, no matter what.

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19 Responses to “Happy 5th Birthday Buddy”

  1. Shannon says:

    Hey,Raz’s!! Happy Birthday to Levi and happy day to you! Love all of you and love reading the annual Levi letter. I know he love shis song and his cupcake! Much love to all of you! Miss you! Shannon

  2. Craig says:

    Hi Rich and Erica,
    Thanks for again sharing a private moment with all of us. Great choice of a song. Some day I believe you will be reunited with Levi. If you’re wondering how you will know him, he’ll be the with a DayTimer, a WSJ under his arm and a briefcase with Cutco knives. Apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. Saw a Warren Buffet qoute on leadership today – “Leadership has a lot to do with being an original. It has a lot to do with doing your dreams and chasing your vision, versus following the herd and and destroying your authenticity.” It doesn’t get any more authentic than this post. May you all have a blessed weekend.

  3. Raz says:

    Thanks from the Razfam. :)

  4. Raz says:

    Craig, pretty funny re. how we’ll know him. I’ll bet you are right! Thanks for your very kind words. I really appreciate your sincerity and the encouragement that you have been to me for so many years.

  5. Rach says:

    This was nice. Levi would love it. Good job mommy and daddy…and sisters….healing steps

  6. gail says:

    Hey Raz. What a beautiful tribute to your special boy. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Beverly Morrison says:

    Rich, from the moment I met you I knew you were a beautiful person inside and out, now I’ve read this letter and have removed any doubt. May your tears be fewer as time and love heal your hearts.

  8. Shannon Shaw says:

    This is beautiful! I know if little Levi were still here and a part of my life as the girls are… I know he would be the ring-bearer for our wedding :) Thank you for sharing this. Love you guys!

  9. Joe Baldo says:

    WOW! Rich you are one inspirational Godly guy and you so comfortably bless all of us. Is 50 too old to be adopted??? You are a great example of a husband, father, leader and friend. May God continue to bless the Razfam and comfort you all until you join Levi in heaven.

  10. big raz says:

    Beautiful, touching post, with deeper than deep thoughts. May God bless you in your commitment to write Levi’s story, something that only you can do, to bless many others who may follow in your footsteps or need encouragement about wiser life perspectives/choices. Life is short for each of us–but Levi’s very very short time here has already touched many, and his story is just beginning.

    Wynonna Judd’s live, concert version of Levi’s song is especially dramatic, and compelling; she introduces the song by sharing a personal loss and need that connected her to the words and gives her a precious future hope.

  11. Rich, E and Rozo – Happy 5th Birthday to sweet Levi. Bobby and I miss him so much too and often think of him… This was such a touching post to compliment the annual tributes to your son, and I love the song you picked out for him. We love you all. xo

  12. What a loving tribute!
    I’m truly touched.
    Blessings to you & your family~
    ps: found your blog through your beautiful sister.

  13. Technik says:

    Marvelous posts & Wonderful a site….

  14. As a Newbie, I am always searching online for articles that can help me. Thank you

  15. Anonymous says:

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  16. Very Nice website. I recently built mine and i was looking for some design ideas and your website gave me some. Did you develop the website alone?

    Cheers

  17. richraz says:

    Hi, thanks. I found the template from Graph Paper Press, then had a web designer help me out (www.meganaho.com), she was awesome to work with–can’t say enough great things about her.

  18. Joey Umholtz says:

    Cool blog you have here, very interesting.

  19. richraz says:

    Thanks, likewise to you as well.

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