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Sarah Stultz: Happy birthday in heaven to my daughter

Nose for News by Sarah Stultz

This week is always one of mixed emotions for me.

Thirteen years ago on Feb. 20, I gave birth to my daughter, Sophie, at our hospital here in Albert Lea.

Sure, being a new parent had its challenges, but it was also a joy — seeing your first child reach milestones, such as learning to crawl, walk, talk and read. I was proud of the young woman she was becoming.

It all seems like such a long time ago.

This year, as we celebrate Sophie’s fifth birthday in heaven, I can’t help but walk back through memory lane and remember some of the good times from how she blessed and continues to bless our lives.

I think about the birthday parties we had — how she loved having her friends over to our house, and how one birthday we had a house full of girls overnight. Oh, the giggling that went on until late in the night!

I think about her favorite things — how she loved art, reading and being with her friends. How even though her little brother sometimes got into her things, she also took her role as his protector very seriously.

I think about her love of candy like most other children her age and how two years in a row she proclaimed she wanted to be a candy maker when she grew up. I wonder what she would say now?

I think about all her little journals she liked to write in, and how much of a gift they are to look back through and see what she thought about in that young mind of hers. Most of the time she was so positive in what she wrote, and I remember her optimism.

I think about how she was learning how to play the piano and how the piano at our house has essentially sat closed collecting dust since she last played it. Maybe it’s time to brushen up on my own skills.

I think about our last day trip together outside of Albert Lea a few weeks before she died when we went up to the Como Zoo together with one of her friends. She was fearless and wanted to ride all of the rides there in the amusement park area.

She was unstoppable.

At times I think about how much I have already forgotten. It has been more than five years since we last saw her, but sometimes it feels like it has been much longer. As time goes on, will I remember all of her favorites?

That’s a scary thought to think that some of that might fade with time.

One thing though I’ll never forget is her smile, her silly laugh and the feeling of holding her close.

As we prepare to celebrate another birthday separated, I remain grateful for the lessons we learned from having her in our lives.

Happy birthday in heaven, baby girl. We hope you are celebrating with some of our other loved ones.

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Wednesday.