An Open Letter to my Nephew on his Birthday


Dear Henry,

Today it is your first birthday, and your Aunty Coco could not be more proud of you! Some birthdays from now, when you are much older and able to understand some of the content in this blog, your parents and I will read some of it with you. You will not believe what your family has been through, and it all started when you were inside your mommy’s tummy.

When mommy was 2-3 months pregnant with you, we were at your Aunty Coco’s and Uncle Paul’s wedding. We had the best time and laughed and danced all night. It was the best day of my life. 3 months later, an MRI found a large growth in my brain. I had a week to prepare for brain surgery that would hopefully remove as much of it is as possible and find out if it was cancerous.

During that week, mommy and papa (‘dad’ in German) had an ultra sound to see how you were doing. They told me they would not find out the gender as they wanted it to be a surprise, and they came home from their appointment thrilled to see you growing so big and strong. As they spoke with excitement about what they saw, they handed me a small piece of paper folded and stapled shut. Mommy said, “We know right now it is probably difficult for you to be excited for the future, but we want you to be able to picture playing with your niece or nephew by reading what is on this paper”. At that moment, as I opened it up and read the stapled paper, I was the only one who knew you would be a boy. I began to dream and picture all the things you might like to do, the name you might have, and what you might look like.

Your mommy wanted to wait for your arrival to find out if you were a boy or a girl. But papa was so excited and could not wait! Mommy and papa then said, “When you wake up from brain surgery, Eric wants you to tell him if he is having a son or a daughter.” A week later I underwent brain surgery. I spent days in the hospital recovering from the procedure. Papa walked into my sectioned off room in the ICU, eagerly paced over to my bedside, his eyes bouncing with excitement. I could see all over his face he couldn’t wait to find out more about you. I turned over to him and said, “Are you sure you want to find out?”. He nodded his head, and I shared, “You are going to have a son”. Tears welled up in his eyes as his heart began to see a clearer picture of you.

Mommy was 7.5 months pregnant with you when I was diagnosed with brain cancer and had to move to Boston for 6 weeks with Uncle Paul and your grandparents, to get the medicine that could possibly help me. This was so hard for us, because we could not see the last 6 weeks of you in your mommy’s tummy. Mommy told me her favorite boy and girl names while we were face-timing. In my head, I began to call you ‘Henry’, hoping that would be her final pick for your name. A week before you were born, I had a slip-up and spoiled the surprise on face-time by referring to you as ‘Henry’ and not ‘baby’. Mommy didn’t mind, she already knew you in her heart.

On August 18th, 2016, I finished my treatment and it was time to come home. I woke up in the morning with a text that read, “You could be an aunty today!”. We packed up the apartment in Boston and headed for the airport. We landed at 6 pm and had not heard any news as your mommy was in active labor. By 8:30 pm, you arrived into the world, and we got a text saying that we could come and meet you!

We arrived at the hospital and we were greeted by Uncle Lance, “His name is Henry!”. We were so thrilled to see your mommy and papa for the first time in 6 weeks, and to meet your precious little face. To the doctors, you were a week early. But to us, you came exactly on time!

It was as though God knew that we as a family so desperately needed to see your smiling face, be greeted by your infinite cuddles and be inspired by the life he created for you. By now perhaps you are old enough where you will turn on the news and see that the world seems to be a scary place.

But I do not want you to stay in that fear. God does not like to see the world as such a terrifying place, just like he did not like to see me hurting from a cancer diagnosis. Although this was not in God’s plans for me, He takes what is meant to harm us and He uses it for good when we trust in Him. My prayer is that you would know that God wants you well all the days of your life, and that you would understand the power behind the beliefs of your heart.

As I write to you today on your first birthday, I have a MRI scan coming up that I am believing will reveal I am now 15 months cancer free. As your Aunty I will spend my life sharing with you how to see the miraculous power of God in your everyday life, how to see His perfect plan come to pass, and how to walk in victory over the trials before you. Aunty will always be your living testimony of God’s grace and His desire for us to prosper and be in health. That is His heart for everyone, including you. Happy 1st Birthday my Henry, God’s incredible plan for you has only just begun.


Aunty Coco



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