Dawn and Jonathan checking out the gifts. As you can see Dawn’s room was already full of gifts of love before the birthday ever started!!

Aunt Sherry was logging the gifts for Dawn so she could write thank-you notes later. Every single weekend Dawn was in the hospital she and Steve came and helped us. She was my rock during those days. Stood by me through thick and thin. She was my sounding board, my shoulder to lean on.

Dawn, her dad, Uncle Steve, Pa, me, Ma, and Jonathan with the first birthday cake! (Aunt Sherry was taking the picture-this was before the day of selfies!!)

Dawn getting a much needed little brother hug from Jonathan. They loved each other so!

There is not another nurse in the world like this one. Meredith Happ Weintraub remains one of the dearest people I know. She was Dawn’s favorite of ALL the nurses. We will never forget her unselfish love and care for all of us.

Opening our gift-a ring we had picked out months before she got sick. Jonathan, Mommy, and Daddy. Notice the heart pins we are wearing-gifts from my sweet cousin Jennifer Moore. I have mine on today!!

The gang’s all here!!  How about driving 200 miles to a birthday party! Amy (Bradley) Cook, Michelle (Strickland) Bradley, Brandi (Bass) Kyles, Susan (Harpe) Grove, and Dawn-Coca Cola shirt and all. You may notice in the background she had IV fluids and blood going during the party!!

Dr. Robert Castleberry, Debbie Cohen-Dawn’s favorite nurse practioner, Dr. Lori Byron all on the front row and the front line of our battle!!

And this memory is from yesterday-February 12, 2017. Uncle Steve placed these beautiful roses in our church yesterday for Dawn’s birthday. He never forgets. His spiritual birthday is the day after Dawn’s funeral She led him to the foot of the cross by her example.
Hallelujah!!

 

As my eyes opened this morning my first thought was of this day 44 years ago, Dawn’s birthdate, when at 10:39 am we became the parents of a beautiful 8 lb 13 oz baby girl. She was the best Valentine’s gift ever! Then quickly my thoughts went to this date 30 years ago; Dawn’s last birthdate on this earth. The thoughts once again were sweet.

It may be hard for some of you to understand how the memory of this last birthday could be sweet, but it is. And it grows sweeter and more precious as the years go by.

We were at Children’s Hospital in Birmingham and even though Dawn was still very sick she was back in the world of the living as far as we were concerned. She was much improved from the week before and ready to celebrate her 14th birthday.

So many people from the hospital came by to wish her Happy Birthday. Although she had only been there 18 days she had already made a host of friends. She was a pretty impressive 14 year old. That young woman had an inner strength and maturity, not to mention intelligence that surprised them all.

Some of the pictures that follow were taken a day or two after her birthday when all our family and friends arrived. If you have had a chance to read our book “Finishing Well—My Daughter’s Journey Home” it tells all about those activities and how much Dawn cherished them.

As I look at these pictures today I am reminded once again of how kind and generous people were to us. I am reminded of the dedication and compassion of the hospital staff. I am reminded of my daughter’s courage and of my son’s love and dedication to his big sister. And I am reminded of a God who never leaves us or forsakes us.

We will always miss our sweet Dawn but have no doubt, her legacy lives on. It lives on in the lives of the people she touched before and after her illness. It lives on in the Dawn Pitchford Fund which continues to provide help and hope for families who are enduring a similar battle. It lives on as I am given the privilege of telling her story in many different venues and it lives on in the lives that have come to know Jesus through her life and her story.

As I was sharing Dawn’s story at Flat Creek Baptist Church yesterday I reminded them that the Word tells us in Nehemiah 8:10 that “…the joy of the Lord is our strength.” It is a joy that is there during our darkest days, our longest nights, and our saddest goodbyes. It is a joy that can’t be explained or understood and yet it is a joy that is so real.

So, yes, this is a day of sweet, sweet memories. I day I will cherish though the years as the day that brought us 14 years of pure joy. So Happy Birthday, my sweet Dawn, until we celebrate around His throne.

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