Today I’m out with Simon and his friends, celebrating the fact that he will be 16 tomorrow.
Sixteen – the birthday that Leah never got to celebrate because she was so ill.
She had no candles, no cake, we didn’t even sing happy birthday, she was just too sick.
We told her that we’d wait and have a big celebration when she got home.
I think that the angels in heaven must have had a party with her instead, because when we finally brought Leah home, it was to “wake” her body.
All of Leah’s unopened birthday presents were hastily stashed in a cupboard, along with her recently unwrapped Christmas presents.
Ever since Simon was in the final stages of Primary School, how he chooses to celebrate his birthday hasn’t changed.
I load up our big blue Citroen Synergie with him and his friends. We head first to the cinema, then to McDonalds.
I enjoy having a car full of young people – it reminds me of how life used to be.
Actually, when Simon was even younger, I used this same 7 seater car to collect his friends and take them to a soft play area for his birthday.
What I find really hard to believe, is that when I first started doing this, the British Army was still in Northern Ireland.
That feels like another life now, but I clearly remember going to the army living quarters in Ballykelly, to collect two of Simon’s young friends.
One was part of a Hong Kong regiment and the other was part of a regiment from Fiji. They were such beautifully mannered young boys.
I would never want to go back to the days of regular bomb scares, tight security and having our streets patrolled by soldiers, but I liked the ethnic diversity that these families brought to the school.
Isn’t it amazing all of the changes that we experience in our lifetime?
Some changes we embrace and welcome, other changes are ones that we find painful and sad, but life never remains static.
I’m glad that we have a God who is always there for us and who never changes: