I share this to illustrate the worry and heavy heart that often accompanies the anniversary of the accident. And it is exactly for that reason that I have made a conscious decision to try to create new traditions and mindset for this day. I don't want to be forever held captive by a number and date. In celebrating our friend's birthday, I realized in a way it is also Laurent's birthday. His Neu Birthday (the day he became a Neu and was born into this world) is in the Fall. However, July 4th can now become his New Birthday as we celebrate the day he was given a second chance at life and his new life in essence began. Why not celebrate this New Birthday with happy traditions filled with gratitude for another year of experiences and time with family? Whether we incorporate the traditional cake and candles or not waits to be seen, but I have now vowed to approach this day with a grateful heart rather than a fearful one.
In that spirit, let me celebrate Laurent's 18th New Birthday. In this 18th year we have been blessed to join with family for the marriage of our son to a beautiful bride. We are grateful for the memory of seeing our entire immediate family together as the two were joined together forever and reflecting on our our own wedding and sealing almost 24 years ago. We arethankful for our faith in a God who allows families the opportunity to be joined together for eternity even if not all get to remain together on earth. On this birthday we remember the importance of family in our lives and the source of our greatest joys.
On this New Birthday, we also celebrate Laurent's blessed gift of music. He continues to sing and bring the spirit of music to the hearts of those around him. Around the time of his 18th New Birthday, he fortuitously had the opportunity to share his love of music with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on tour in Europe. In fact, on the day before his New Birthday, he sang the solo part in Betelehemu with that choir in the beautiful and historical Musikverein concert hall in Vienna, Austria. This performance was a favorite of Laurent's for many reasons. His mother was baptized in Vienna back in the 60s and so we had come full circle with the gospel of Jesus Christ in our life. Mostly , though, Laurent reveled in the opportunity to sing that solo in the marvelous concert hall without a microphone. Now those who know Laurent are familiar with his powerful voice. In fact he is quite proud of the volume he can project. Normally, while singing with the choir, he has to pull back to blend with the 300 voices. But at this concert, he got to sing out fully in order to project over those 300 voices and rejoice in the freedom of expression and praise in the music. He loved it! He filled that hall with music! So on this 18th New Birthday, we celebrate that Laurent is here with us and able to experience these moments and memories with us. We gratefully acknowledge the 18 extra years he has been given to live with his family and find joy with others. Happy 18th New Birthday, Laurent. May you celebrate many more joyous occasions in the future and find ways to share your love and light with others.