I was surrounded by love on my daughter’s first heavenly birthday

Countless friends and family came together on March 10 to honor Cammy

Jackie Babiarz avatar

by Jackie Babiarz |

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Since my daughter Cammy passed away in December due to complications of Rett syndrome, I’ve been experiencing a lot of firsts without her. The holidays hit hard. We had to navigate our first Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, my husband Billy’s birthday, and our younger daughter Ryan’s birthday without Cammy. Most recently, we celebrated Cammy’s first heavenly birthday on March 10.

I spent most of March 9th in bed, crying and missing her. Thinking about everything I’ve always done to prepare for my kids’ birthdays hurt so much. There was no one to hold a “last night of 14” sign. Cammy wasn’t there to confirm her birthday meal and dessert. She couldn’t cuddle with us while recapping the year’s amazing memories. Cammy wouldn’t roll in her wheelchair through the streamers Billy put on her door frame. I just lay in bed, unable to move, scrolling through memories on social media of her past birthdays.

On March 10, I didn’t wake up to my daughter’s excited squeals in the wee hours of the morning. I walked into her empty room and immediately started to cry.

“Happy birthday, Camster,” I said aloud. “Today is going to be a great birthday. Your aunts and cousins are coming over this morning to celebrate, and then friends are coming over in the afternoon. We’re eating your favorite foods and sending you tons of balloons to chase. I miss you more than I could ever express. I love you.”

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In loving memory of our sweet angel, Cammy

A group of people gather outside in front of the author's house on a sunny day. They are holding purple balloons up toward the sky.

Our family releases purple balloons up to Cammy on her birthday on March 10. (Courtesy of Jackie Babiarz)

My sisters came over with their kids, all wearing “Cammy Can” shirts. I feel so much stronger when they are around. We smiled thinking about Cammy and what she might be doing now that she’s free from Rett syndrome and can run, play, talk, and do whatever she wants. We toasted to our girl, then ate her favorite desserts — cannoli cake, chocolate cake, and carrot cake.

We stepped outside, thanking Cammy for sending the perfect blue sky and warm weather. Each family member set an intention, wished Cammy a happy birthday, and released a purple balloon to the sky for Cammy to catch. Knowing that Cammy felt all our love gave me an incredible amount of strength, and I was able to make it through the rest of the day without sad tears.

Throughout the entire day, I received messages wishing Cammy a happy birthday. Tons of people from around the world sent photos of themselves wearing Cammy Can shirts, chalk drawings, or balloons they sent up to Cammy. Some loved ones sent us purple flowers to honor our girl. Friends and family delivered thoughtful gifts representing Cammy. Our dearest friends set up lunch and dinner to be delivered to the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) in appreciation for all the love and support its staff gave Cammy and our family. Cammy’s fairy godmothers also delivered 15 bags of goodies to 15 patients in the PICU, in honor of Cammy’s 15th birthday.

During the afternoon, we had an open house to celebrate Cammy. More and more loved ones walked in with Cammy Can shirts on. Tears of joy rolled down my face as Cammy’s therapists, nurses, and favorite people came over. Each reflected and shared their favorite Cammy story. We all stepped outside to wish Cammy a happy birthday and released purple and “Sesame Street” balloons to her.

A group of people stand on a driveway at sunset, watching the balloons they released fly up into the sky.

Loved ones watch purple and “Sesame Street” balloons fly up to Cammy on her birthday. (Courtesy of Jackie Babiarz)

I will never fully comprehend the profound impact my daughter made on everyone we know and people we have never even met. The joy Cammy brought to everyone made me feel incredibly proud. Every day without her, I understand more and more the adage that “life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” Cammy lived a full life in her short 14 years on this earth. Man, oh man, did she live.

Cammy was made only of the good stuff. She touched more lives than most will in a full lifetime. I am forever proud of her. I will forever miss her. I will forever love her more than anything.

Note: Rett Syndrome News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Rett Syndrome News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Rett syndrome.


Jill Johnson and Kim avatar

Jill Johnson and Kim

So sorry to hear of your loss of Cammie - it was always interesting to read of her life - she was really living!
Best wishes Jill and Kim (RS)


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