Words a mother should never say to their son….Happy Birthday in heaven!

On August 27, 1996 I gave birth to my second born child. I had a beautiful baby boy and we named him Andrew. He was perfect….until we brought him home. He literally cried for 7 months straight. He was a colicky little guy and just wanted to be held and rocked 24/7. Thank God he was a good sleeper. He took long naps and slept though the night….which saved both of our lives!

Once Andrew was mobile, he stopped crying and became a complete terror. There was no gate, playpen or safety lock that could contain him. He was Houdini and amazed us with his abilities to find a way out of anything and get to whatever he wanted. Once he climbed over a gate that went into our kitchen, pulled over a chair and climbed onto the counter & reached up on the top shelf of the cabinet to get a lighter stick. He then took a piece of paper off of the refrigerator and lit it on fire and dropped it onto the  kitchen floor. He came back into the living room as cool as a cucumber and I smelled something burning. Our kitchen lanoleum floor was on fire!

Another time, Andrew decided to wake up extra early and go down into the kitchen and get the Hershey’s chocolate syrup out of the fridge and decorate the living room with it. He came upstairs to wake me up and I could smell chocolate. I walked down the stairs and just started to cry. There was chocolate syrup all over our couches, carpet & dripping off of the coffee table. This is when his cuteness was a necessity to keep him alive!

I have dozens and dozens of stories like these of our mischievous little boy! How many times he overflowed the toilet because he flushed toothbrushes down it or pulled up the stopper on the sink and turned on the water to just let it run until it eventually came though the living room ceiling.  We had to open our windows from the top and had eye hooks on every door. We even had a circular gate around our Chrisrmas tree. Andrew kept our creativity alive trying to keep him out of trouble!!

I can remember many days feeling very overwhelmed but also so entertained by my baby boy. He was as cute as a button and was always smiling! His laugh was so hearty & contangious since he was so young. I rememeber once I took  him to see a movie and he was sitting on the very edge of his seat laughing hysterically the whole time. After the movie was over, an older couple who were sitting in front of us stopped me and said they were so happy we sat behind them because Andrew’s laughter made the movie that much funnier.

Andrew was so affectionate and wanted my undivided attention. When he was sitting on my lap and I was distracted he would put one hand on each of my cheeks and turn my face so he could kiss me right on the lips! He was so devilish, yet so sweet at the same time.

He started his obsession with Batman when he was about three. He LOVED Batman until the day he died. He had a Batman keychain hanging from his dashboard in his car and was so excited to get a Batman tattoo when he turned 21 but he never made it to his 21st birthday. He died 2 weeks before.

One of my favorite stories about Andrew was when we were in the beach one day and Andrew was playing in the sand all by himself. He was very good at entertaining himself with his vivid imagination. I’m sure he had his Batmans (as Andrew called them) in his hands as he was having fun in the sun. This couple were amused as they watched him in adoration. They said hello to Andrew and asked him what his name was….he answered “I’m Batman!” They laughed and said “No….what’s your real name?” Andrew didn’t hesitate and said “Bruce Wayne!”

Andrew was a passionate young man who stood up for his beliefs even if it wasn’t what was popular. He didn’t care about fitting in with the cool kids…he knew whar he liked and there was no changing his mind. He once told me “When I grow up I’m gonna ride a motorcycle and smoke cigarettes!” No matter how many times I told him how unhealthy cigarettes were or unsafe motorcycles were….to him they were cool!

He could be challenging to parent because he was very argumentative and secretive. He would never ever tell on his siblings or friends and actually took the blame before he ratted anyone out. The things that made him hard to parent made him a great friend. He was so loyal and safe to share secrets with. He was there on a drop of a hat if anyone needed him. He was nonjudgmental and very open minded.

After Andrew passed away, I received countless letters and messages from Andrew’s friends telling me how important he was in their lives.  They shared some very personal and private events that happened where my son helped them out. I had never known how much Andrew quietly & humbly came to the aid of the friends he loved and did it without any acknowledgement or praise necessary.  He built people up when they were feeling down and told them all of the beautiful attributes they possessed. Andrew actually saved lives of friends who were contemplating suicide. He went to them anytime they needed someone. He even called the police and sent them to a friend’s house when he thought they were in danger of hurting themself. I never knew any of this until they told me after his death.  I was so grateful they shared these very personal and heartbreaking stories with me. It made me so proud of the compassionate and loving young man my son was.

Mike, Amanda, Michael and myself all miss Andrew so much and can’t believe he has  left this world forever. His huge personality was one of a kind and leaves a huge void in our family.  We grieve Andrew’s absence for today and tomorrow and the rest of our lives! We grieve the life he didn’t get to live….20 is too young to die! We grieve Andrew not becoming an adult, buying a house or getting married. We grieve that Andrew will never experience being an Uncle or Father. It’s just so unfair and cruel!

People think that after a year of losing someone you love, it gets easier! I’m here to tell you that when it’s your child it is  untrue. The fog is just beginning to lift and the reality that my son is gone forever is becoming true and that reality sucks and hurts so bad. We live our lives and put a smile on our faces but it feels like the weight of the world is on our shoulders! It’s always there and changes who we once were. I have been told by other grieving mother’s that I will learn to live with this pain. It never goes away….I will just learn how to live with it.

So today is Andrew’s birth day. I am grateful I was his mother and had 20 (almost 21) very adventorous years with my precious son.  He taught me so much and I continue to learn from him. I’m still coming to grips with the tremendous and painful loss of my child and I know I will for a very long time ;however, I’m trying so hard to not focus on my anger and resentments about the death of my baby! I’m so pissed off and feel so cheated! I want my son here with me on his birthday! I want to make him a cake, sing happy birthday  and buy him presents like mother’s are supposed to do on their child’s birthday! I’m sad! I’m angry! I’m exhausted!

I love you Andrew! I love you more than you ever knew! You were a beautiful soul and are so deeply missed! Happy Birthday in heaven my sweet boy!


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My name is Melissa Shelly and I am a 46 year old mom who lives in Newtown Square, PA. I never thought of myself as mighty but when my 14 year old son, Michael was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer on August 18, 2014, everyone kept telling me how strong I was. Three years later on August 12, 2017, my 20 year old son, Andrew died instantly in a car accident. Again, people kept saying I was so strong and I actually hated when people would say that to me! I have heard 100 times “I could never do what you’re doing....if my child died I wouldn’t be able to function!”. That’s what I thought about myself until it was me! I didn’t ask to be handed these tragedies & painful traumatic events and I never felt I had a choice....I had to be a mighty leader!! I am a mother of three children and a wife to a wonderful man. We needed to survive and keep hope alive in our hearts! I wish I never had to be strong....but unfortunately we don’t control many things in our lives; however, we can control how we deal with them. It isn’t easy and I have some really bad days but I continue to work on healing and living my life with meaning and purpose. I want to share my pain and my successes with anyone who wants to walk beside me!

10 thoughts on “Words a mother should never say to their son….Happy Birthday in heaven!”

  1. Happy Birthday to Andrew in Heaven. Words that I wish everyday Were not true. I am grateful to have been chosen to be Andrew’s godmother, grateful to have Memories of Andrew as a curious spunky baby and child. I only wish I had more memories of Andrew as the strong young man he grew into, Love your blog and stories of Andrew! I wish you peace ang hugs from heaven to all the Shelly’s on this special day.Happy Birthday Andrew love and miss you everyday.


  2. The more I come to know your son, Andrew, the more I smile and sigh. How funny is that story about the couple on the beach asking who he was. Of course he was Bruce Wayne probably more than Bruce Wayne was Bruce Wayne. Your Andrew knew when to come out of that cave, he knew when his friends needed help and he never failed to do so.

    It’s a hard day, Mighty Melissa, a birthday without your handsome Batman. We grieve with you and your son, Michael, daughter Amanda and good husband, Mike. Thank you for sharing these wonderful stories about Andrew.



  3. Thank you for sharing those funny stories about Andrew. I can just totally see him doing all those crazy and mischievous things, they sound just like the Andrew we knew and loved!!! 😆
    Melissa I can feel you’re pain and the loss in you’re posts and as cliché as it sounds, I think of you and pray for you all the time, for all of you that you may find comfort and peace. We miss Andrew very much and our hearts are broken that he’s gone but as broken as they are, he will always hold a special place in our hearts and he will NEVER be forgotten.
    Happy birthday, Andrew!
    We love you ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Andrew was one of the funniest kids! I remember his antics very well. His beautiful, cherub face made you smile even when he knew he was being mischievous! I cannot imagine the pain that all of you go through every day; just know that we love you and we pray that your Angel in heaven will send comfort through the memories of his too short life,that you share on this blog.😘


  5. Melissa. I discovered your blog this evening. Your writing is beautiful and I’m glad you are using it as a way of helping both yourself and others. Thank you for sharing.


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