A Heavenly Birthday

Dawn would have celebrated her 36th birthday this week.
Dawn would have celebrated her 36th birthday this week.

This week, my daughter Dawn, would be thirty-six years old. I’ll never know if she would have become the Olympic ice skater or hand surgeon that she dreamed of becoming, or if she would have a family of her own and I would be a grandmother several times over by now. But forever etched in my memory is the moment Dawn entered this world with her big blue eyes wide open and her arms thrown out as if she was embracing the new world she was about to experience. What a kid! She hit the ground running and never stopped. She was pretty, loving, generous, kind, smart, funny, and ever so creative. She packed more living in her precisely eight and three quarter years than many of us do over decades. Her teachers and coaches described her and her work as “fantastic… tremendous… excellent… beautiful… terrific… outstanding… dynamite.”

But to me it was her love for the Lord and her family, and her kindness to everyone she came in contact with that reflected the beauty of her spirit and made my heart soar. Twenty-seven years later, when I think of my precious daughter, all “is well with my soul,” but the tears still come with memories of her hand in mine as we walked through the mall to shop, picking strawberries at Jones Farm together and eating more than we put in our baskets, or singing together in the choir on Sundays. Dawn’s favorite song was “Be Not Afraid,” and the Fairfield Prep Men’s Choir sang it at her funeral.

“…If you stand before the power of hell
and death is at your side
know that I am with you through it all…”

For a very long time after the crash that killed my sweet girl, I agonized over whether she was in pain or terrified in her final moments. I felt like those are things we are supposed to protect our children against and I had failed. As I accepted the Lord’s call to be lifted up in the aftermath of this tragedy in my life, I came to trust the words of Dawn’s favorite song taken from Isaiah 43. My little girl had no reason to be afraid, Jesus her Savior was “with her through it all,” and she is dancing in heaven with Him today.

It took many years and much grieving and healing before I could feel anything but excruciating pain when I thought of my daughter. But as I grew in my faith and trust in the Lord, I found the peace of acceptance that I needed to find joy again when I thought of Dawn. Now when I think of this beautiful flower in the garden of my life, my heart soars again. I thank God for every labor pain that birthed this precious child and for every minute of those eight and three quarter years that Dawn graced my life with hers.

You are gone from this earth, Dawn, but never from my heart. Happy Birthday, my sweet girl. I love you always and forever, Mom

13 thoughts on “A Heavenly Birthday

  1. Nancy says:

    Your post brought tears to my eyes Donna. What a beautiful remembrance and tribute to your daughter. The way you have dealt with your loss and pain is an inspiration to us all. Thanks for sharing and happy birthday Dawn.

  2. Lynn says:

    Donna, my friend…………… you know I’ve always said this to you, but I repeat……. I am so very lucky to know my very own “angel on earth.”
    Beautiful– does not come close to the words you feel and have shared.

  3. Carolyn says:

    Love you, Donna! Beautiful testimony, beautiful daughter and beautiful memories that are recorded. It takes courage and trust to open up your heart to us all. Thank you for your sharing.

    Dawn ~
    Happy Birthday, Dear One. May you continue to whisper sweet loving memories to let your mom know you are near and may you continue to help guide her healing with such a painful loss.

    You keep track of all my sorrows.
    You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
    You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:8 (NLT)

  4. Kate :) says:

    Thank you my friend for sharing your painful experiences and your heart so beautifully. The Lord is using you and your testimony in so many ways to encourage others. Love you!

  5. Ruth says:

    Dear Donna,
    One day you will feel the loving embrace of your beloved Dawn, when you are reunited with her and your sons in heaven.
    You are and always will be an inspiration to me. God Bless you, always!
    Happy Birthday, sweet, beautiful, Dawn!
    Xoxo Ruth

  6. Jodi Clark says:

    Happy heavenly birthday Dawn! You would be so proud of your beautiful mom! She has endured the worst of the worst and the light of Christ still shines brightly though her. She is one AMAZING lady I am so proud to call my friend. Xoxo

  7. Donna Diaz says:

    Our sweet Dawn–Yes, always, always, always in the heart of her beautiful mother and in the hearts of all that knew her and loved her. Happy BIrthday, little angel!

  8. Madeline Gianatasio says:

    My dearest Dawn Marie,
    Your long, flowing hair, your contagious laughter, and your incredible ability to make everyone feel special and important will never be forgotten. Happy Birthday.

  9. Julie downey says:

    She is so beautiful Donna and looks so much like your wonderful Meredith!! I’m sure she is skating in heaven and loving every minute! Thank you for setting a remarkable example for all of us. It will be a glorious time when we get to be reunited with our loved ones who have gone before us. God bless you and the work you are doing!!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *