A longtime friend of Philip, Brian Penter, writes on the blog today to share a special birthday tribute to Philip.
Birthdays are a time of celebration. There’s cake, decorations, and presents with friends and family gathering to celebrate someone’s day. It’s always a joyous occasion. As today marks what would have been Philip’s 26th birthday, the occasion has taken on a different meaning, as we all take the time to reflect and remember his wonderful life.
I remember birthday parties with Philip growing up. There were always a lot of kids, because Philip had so many friends. One in particular sticks out. It was the summer that the Lutzenkirchens installed a full-court concrete basketball court in their backyard. It was the coolest thing ever for us basketball-obsessed kids. We would lower the goals to 7 feet and dunk on them (which led to Philip chipping his front teeth on the rim multiple times). For his birthday that summer, Philip hosted an all-day basketball tournament, where we played until sundown, before cutting the cake and watching Philip rip open his presents. It was a great day.
I also remember Philip’s last birthday on Earth. He had turned 23 and we went out to celebrate at a local Mexican restaurant near our apartment in Montgomery. We joked about those good old times and talked about what lied ahead. It’s hard to believe that was three years ago.
On June 1, 2015, Philip’s first birthday after his passing from this life, a group of us gathered at the Lutzenkirchen home. We wanted to celebrate his life and treat his birthday as a special occasion like it had always been. We shared memories, spoke of his life and some tears were shed. We cut a cake and remembered the 23 beautiful years he served on this Earth. It was not easy, but it was important to celebrate his life in remembrance.
It is sad that he’s not here anymore to celebrate on June 1st with us all, but I know he’s smiling down on all of us. I’m so grateful to have known him and I cherish all those memories we had together. I know anyone that knew Philip feels the same way. Our lives are much better because of the joy he brought to them. We’ll never forget that.
Happy Birthday, Philip. We miss you. We love you. We’ll see you soon.