We were heartbroken when we heard the news of Liam’s passing in January. He was a brave little boy with one of those smiles that could light up a room. He loved to bake cookies, play pretend, and ride his scooter. He was only six years old.
May 13th would have been Liam’s seventh birthday, and we wanted to honor him in our own special way. We wanted to celebrate his life, his love, his laughter, and his strength. We wanted to spread the word about Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, the incredible non-profit organization that Liam’s parents had founded when they learned of his cancer four years ago. We wanted to bring some joy to his family and friends, who have dedicated themselves to this cause.
So, we coordinated with Liam’s mother to set up a photo shoot with his sister, Ella, and his best friend, Taber. As parents ourselves, it is difficult to even imagine the grief of losing a child, but Gretchen amazed us with her upbeat, go-get-‘em personality. She is being strong for her young daughter and her family, and we know that Liam would be so very proud of his Mommy. Besides her unwavering commitment to helping others, Gretchen’s positive energy added a whole new element to the shoot. An element of hope.
Although we’d all crossed our fingers for gorgeous weather, the evening sky was overcast and muggy. As Ella and Taber sat in the grass to sing “happy birthday,” it began to rain. The light showers quickly turned into a torrential downpour. As we ran to our cars, getting absolutely drenched, the perfection of the moment hit me. It was as if the sky was weeping for these two little girls. Beneath their frolicking and giggles, these girls had lost their favorite playmate, their best friend, and the blissful innocence of childhood.
The storm ended as abruptly as it had started. The clouds slowly parted, and the sun came out just in time to wow us with a breathtaking sunset. In the warm glow of the evening sky, Ella lovingly wrote a message to Liam in his birthday card. She used an orange crayon, “since it’s his favorite color.” It was an incredibly touching moment, and we both had tears in our eyes as we watched her contemplate the perfect words. When she was done, we carefully tied the note to a bunch of balloons. The girls whispered their birthday wishes to Liam, as they let go of the balloons and watched them fly off into the distance. Taber asked if the note would get to Liam, and Ella confidently responded, “Balloons know the way to Heaven.”
Special Note: We will be featuring an image from Liam’s birthday shoot on the cover of our 2012 Giggles Calendar. The calendars will go on sale in August, and thanks to our generous sponsors, 100% of all proceeds will be donated to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. Please take a moment to visit their site to learn about the wonderful ways in which you can get involved in this worthy cause, so that no other family has to suffer the tragic loss of their child. http://www.cookiesforkidscancer.org