In some ways it seems longer, longer than seventeen months ago, that I lost my sweet Malachi James to miscarriage at 20 weeks in the womb. Over the past seventeen months I have wept, I have grieved, my heart has been crushed into a million pieces. But also, somehow, over the past seventeen months I have healed, my heart has been gently put back together by the tenderness of the Lord, and, though our hearts will always have a spot reserved for our Malachi, our lives go on. 

And so, I’m in a bit of disbelief that I should be throwing a first birthday party this month. We’re really big about celebrations around here and so birthday parties are a big deal – especially first birthdays. So throwing a 1st birthday party would definitely be happening… had things been different. 

It seems a bit surreal that, for the first time in eighteen years of parenting, I would have planned my first boy party for this month. I’m sure I would have spent hours over the months beforehand, searching Pinterest for “1st birthday party for boy” ideas. 

This is how I imagine that 1st birthday party might go, had our Malachi kept his little life on this planet… 

After 18 years of princess parties and pink and purple, I would be seeing green and blue. Nothing too cliche or trendy… creative but classic is my motto.

Maybe my little man would be loving trucks right now, so the search for fun birthday cake ideas would be on. Or maybe, with now having 5 kids, I would be opting for the local bakery to put together that cake for our celebration.

Maybe after a summer of taking his oldest sister off to ministry school halfway around the country and then sending his rookie big sister off to her first day of preschool, I would need a simple plan to celebrate his first year of life.

First birthdays are usually a gathering of friends and family – and mine is rather large. My parents, along with the 5 kiddos that still live at home would make the trek over from a town not too far away. My adult sisters and their families hopefully would be able to make the journey too. 

We would invite our closest friends from church, along with their kiddos. And I would have had to make the decision whether we were going to stick with the traditional cake only or throw a meal in as well.

If we had opted for a meal for our festivity, my husband probably would have smoked some pork or chicken, and I’d have grabbed some store-bought macaroni salad and some potato chips and pop. We would have borrowed church tables and chairs for 50 and then prayed for the weather to be decent so we could party in the garage.

There would be a couple games for the older kids – maybe put together by one of Malachi’s big sisters.  It may take a few minutes to finally gather everyone to sing “Happy Birthday” to the boy in the highchair with a big piece of cake and a candle in front of him.

Once we watched our firstborn son attempt to blow out the candle, his four-year old sister would gladly finish the task and probably try to help feed him his first bite of cake. I wonder if he would be one to jump right into the sugary mess or gingerly lick the frosting off his fingers?

There would be lots of laughter and fun. Noise and a big mess for sure. Maybe a mishap or two and even some stressful moments, as there are with every event. But, for sure there would be a few tears from mama, as I soaked in every moment of one last first birthday party

But all of this was not to be, as our Malachi James has already celebrated his first year in heaven. Mostly likely, with a much bigger celebration than we could ever imagine. 

Happy Would-Have-Been 1st Birthday, my son! I miss you and can’t wait to finally meet you someday! Love, Mama

Dani Stroda

I love the adventure of life - aspiring to live every day lost in the whimsy and wonder of the journey. I’m outrageously in love with my amazing husband who makes me laugh every day. I’m mamma to 4 gorgeous and witty daughters who delight me everyday. I’m overwhelmed by the love of our Creator and passionate about helping others find freedom and wholeness - body, soul and spirit. I am author of the book, Journey Through the Door, which released in November 2015. A good conversation, with a friend, over coffee is a favorite pastime of mine and you can join me over at to join in the conversation! Also find me at “Whimsy In My Cup” on Facebook.