Presents For a Baby Who Did Not Live to Celebrate His First Birthday

Like most parents, I wanted to mark my son’s first birthday with a special present.

Unlike many parents, my son did not live to celebrate his first birthday.

While my partner and I are devastated that Hugo is no longer in our arms, we remain proud parents and wanted to observe his arrival in the world. The kinds of presents that you might typically buy for a baby’s first birthday – toys and clothes for example – are inappropriate and useless.

A more appropriate present is something symbolic.

As a present from Hugo’s mummy and daddy, I commissioned a special piece of artwork.

I read Guess How Much I Love You to Hugo a seemingly infinite amount of time. The last line is “I love you to the Moon and back”. I had read the book so many times (we had few books to hand), I started to improvise a bit – describing the pictures, wondering what else Big Nutbrown Hare and Little Nutbrown Hare would be up to.

One of these improvisations became telling Hugo: “I love you all the way to the Moon, which is made of cheese and you get to in a spaceship and back a million times – and that’s a lot!” I had often muttered under my breath that I hoped he wouldn’t be too cross with me when he was bigger and discovered that the Moon isn’t really made of cheese.

I wanted the artwork to represent this very special, significant and poignant ritual I had with Hugo. The artist, Stephanie Block, did an amazing job from my initial brief – I wanted a 1950s B-movie style rocket, with stars in the background, along with the words I would say to Hugo.

The finished product exceeded my expectations. There are wonderful details – the spaceship bears Hugo’s name; the Moon features a heart-shaped crater; there are musical note imprints to signify the songs I would sing to Hugo. The five coloured stars (one for every year of Hugo’s life) are covered in glitter – a touch for a sparkle-loving Mummy.

The artwork we commissioned for Hugo.

The artwork we commissioned for Hugo.

It will be displayed in pride of place in the living room. I love that it is personal to our little family, and tells a story of our relationship with our special boy.

My lovely friend made this beautiful cushion for Hugo: it made me cry. The five Hugo stars, and Hugo’s name cut out from purple fabric (Mummy’s favourite colour) was just perfection.

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The connection with ‘I love you to the Moon and back’ continued with this lovely papercut work sent by a kind friend. It was made by a talented lady we both went to school with. The photo doesn’t really do it justice – the background sparkles with different colours.

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Another lovely friend gave us this lovely picture: H for Hugo on a background of coloured stars. Again, perfection – completely symbolic of everything was and is.

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We were also given stunning flowers. We will be sharing them – the glorious sunflowers in particular – with Hugo at his garden once the frosts abate. We hate seeing flowers destroyed by the frost.

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A candle we were given will be lit on special occasions to remember Hugo, too.

In addition to these physical gifts, without wanting to sound cheesy we were also given the gift of love and support by so many wonderful people through messages and tweets saying they were thinking of Hugo.

Whether virtual or tangible, all these gifts are greatly appreciated by Martin and I. We are grateful for the love and support we have from so many, and to know that Hugo will live on through his legacy, and through stories of his life that are portrayed through artistic symbolism.

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