Happy Birthday Norah // One Year

Letters to NorahJoanna Zuidema1 Comment

Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday sweet Norah,
Happy birthday to you!!


Oh my sweet girl, today you are one!

365 days ago, we were dreaming of your first year – of getting to hold you, teach you, and eagerly watch you grow – smiling as you learn and explore the world around you.

That did happen, Norah, except you weren’t the one being held, taught, or loved on.
We were.

My darling, what a year you have given us.


You’ve done so much more than simply make us parents, Norah; you’ve completely shattered our worldview. Over this past year, our priorities have shifted, clarified, and solidified; we now know what true unconditional, unlimited love is.


You’ve taught us that it doesn’t simply ‘take a village to raise a child’, it ‘takes a village’ to navigate the entire wild journey of life. Your daddy and I have been carried by our ‘village’ throughout this trying last year and a half. Family, friends, coworkers, professionals, and organizations have come alongside us, tenderly holding and guiding us through this valley we find ourselves in.

Darling, you’ve created quite a community of your own – this Fierce Family. Your story has reached out and touched the hearts of people all over the country, and even around the globe. You’re definitely the popular kid, Norah. No doubt about it :)


Some of the most cherished connections made in the past year have come in the form of others living after loss. We’ve connected with other grieving families both locally and globally, many of whom have now become dear friends. These fellow grievers allow a space for our souls to rest in the shared experience of life after loss – a space that has become absolutely essential for surviving this new normal.

But you didn’t simply surround us with a supportive community, you also showed us how vital it is to nurture that community – to give back, to pour into those who have done so much for us.


Because of you, $600+ was raised for Faith’s Lodge with our Faith by Fire shirt campaign.

Because of you, we served dinner at the very same Ronald McDonald House that served us and later walked alongside hundreds of other RMH families at the Family Walk.

Sweet Norah, because of you over $10,000 has been raised for the Ronald McDonald House in the last year and tens of thousands more has been raised as a result of your story being featured in the Ronald McDonald House–UMW holiday letter.


Norah, this past year has given us a deep appreciation for the true miracle that is simply being alive.

You held your grandma’s hand through her journey with stage IV lung cancer, and ran to greet her as she was welcomed into heaven. It’s because of you that she was able to find glimmers of peace in her diagnosis; she anxiously and hopefully awaited the day she would get to see you again.


Norah, it’s because of you that your daddy and I have a new understanding of what it means to truly trust God, to know that He is there with us in the fire. And because of you, we’re learning that He’s not only with us in the fire, but is refining us through it all.

And darling, God is so good.

Sweetheart, you have done more in your first year than many accomplish in a lifetime. Your daddy and I so incredibly proud of the impact you have had and continue to have on this world.

We love you to the moon and back.