I know you are thinking back to 15 years ago today. You were only four weeks new to the idea of giving birth to a child with special needs.

I know how scared you were, how fragile your own heart was, and how many questions lay unanswered.

You were also so brave and courageous. You had to dig deep to find the strength to hold on, to believe, to trust and find faith exactly where you thought you lost it.

I know how hard it was to smile and to keep your entire beautiful family whole, nourished and nurtured. I also know how your heart broke when you had to answer your little one’s questions and how they left feeling safe and uplifted, and yet you were left shaken, vulnerable and clinging to the echo of your own words.

You were surrounded by so much love and support, and these very pillars are what held you up. They are the same pillars that still hold you up today.

I know the journey has been trying, I see what you do every day and night. I see how you navigate, find more strength, reach out for help, advocate and pray. I hear the words that come forth and the ones that don’t make it past your lips.

The creativity of your mind is often what saves you from despair. Somehow, you keep thinking of more ideas, solutions, visions and dreams.

What you have come to learn and experience is that the blessings are within the struggle. And even when you get lost in the abyss of your own mind, you surrender to the will of G‑d.

I must admit, you do give a good fight, yet your armor is never strong enough. So you slowly take it off, one piece at a time. The days go by, and you have to throw all those pieces to the wind, one at a time, slowly ... very slowly, and way too carefully.

I wish you would have remembered to breathe, but for many days and sometimes years, you did not. How could you anyways, when you were saving your breath for your child?

Maybe one would call you a warrior, but you are still facing down in your battlefield, breathing dust into your wounded lungs.

Fifteen years ago, you were given a treasure. A gift. A Blessing. A Miracle. You were chosen to bring this special soul into the world.

I could see the honor within you.

You had no idea how today would look. You could only do one minute at a time. But every year on this day, you see your reflection in your heart. You mix it up with a birthday cake, songs and laughter.

But I know you still hear the sounds of a sterile NICU ward on the 14th floor. You go back every year. It’s OK to just visit once in a while. You know it’s a short visit. Never a good idea to stay for too long.

You have so much gratitude and yet you know it doesn’t guard you from feeling all you feel.

You love so fiercely, so passionately. And yet you know your eyes will always be moist.

It’s hard. You laugh, you cry, you worry, you let go.

And yet you hold on. Your hand is in that of your Creator. You speak to Him all day. He listens, He answers. You talk some more.

You dance between the many emotions. You celebrate your own milestones. You wish Chaim Boruch “Happy Birthday” ...

And yet you know how much more is in your heart.

So to my very own exhausted, often defeated, yet loving self, Happy Birthday.

Your very own child has been your match made in heaven. You knew it all along. And you live it with pride.