At 19 weeks I gave birth to a little boy. We named him Jacob. We said hello and goodbye in the same hour. He is not a miscarriage or an almost-child, he is my son. This letter was written three years after his birth. This is a glimpse into my mother’s heart, a letter written to Jacob my son who resides in heaven. If you (or someone you know) have lost a child perhaps you will relate.
Three years have come and gone since we met and said goodbye to you. How time has alternated between dragging and flying by. I can hardly believe that it has been three years. It seems odd, that whole time oxymoron. It either flies by or drags. When I am besought with pain it drags and seems to go on forever, the pain seems endless. Yet when I look at other little boys your age it seems to have flown by. I still think of you as a baby, but you would not be a baby anymore.
This week I allowed thoughts of you to creep into my imagination. (I don’t permit myself to do that very often, it hurts too much). This week I allowed it and wondered what colour your hair would be. By now you would have a full head of hair. What about your eyes and your features? I assume that you would look like Sam, he looks exactly like Daddy. But how would you differ? What would your personality be like? I imagine that you would be easy going. Fourth children must be, after all. Probably quite busy, as boys are, especially my boys. Who are you Jacob?
You are a myth. You can be whoever I want you to be. I can invent your looks and personality anyway I choose, I can imagine you however my mind will go. Yet I arrive again at the painful realization that whoever I make you to be I will never know the answer to my questions. The pain, having receded with my imaginings, forces its way back into my heart with a creeping, seeping knowledge that I will never know!
Some kids have imaginary friends, yet mothers who have lost babies have imaginary children. They are based in reality, for I have seen you with my own eyes, I have heard your heart beat, I have felt you move. Only once did I have these opportunities with you my son. I saw you only once, heard your heart beat just once, I felt you move only once, but you lived with me for 19 weeks. For 19 weeks, just shy of 5 months, I dreamed of my baby, and a bond grew between us that will last a lifetime. Although your personality and looks are left to my imagination, you my son are real! My love for you is real and I cling to the hope of Heaven and our reunion.
This year for your birthday I bought another Willow Tree figurine. This one is a little boy with his hands in the air lifting a balloon high for all to see. His face is tilted up, his arms lifted high. The balloon says HOPE in it. I bought it because it could be a 2 1/2 year old boy, which is what you would be today if you were here in my arms. I choose to cling to the hope we have of Heaven. So this little boy will remind me of my son in Heaven and that there is hope for our future both yours and mine even though we cannot be together; for now.
Hope means so much Jacob, because I have hope that someday we will meet in heaven. I am assuming that I will recognize you. How could a mother not know her child?! (It grieves my heart to have to wonder.) Yet I don’t know what you look like or your mannerisms. But here comes hope once again to encompass my heart and say of course I will recognize you, I am sure that God will grant a mother’s heart this gift.
Even as I write, my eyes swim with unshed tears. There are tears for the pain I suffer at not watching you grow up with our friends, and tears that I must sit here and wonder who you are and what you are like instead of chasing you and telling you to “get down or stop that.” I cry because you are in some ways my imaginary child. I have sad tears for my loss and the hole you left in my heart and life; glad tears for hope and our future knowing that one day we will meet.
So Jacob, these are the musings of a mother’s heart three years after your loss. Looking back I remember wondering, a couple of weeks after you were born, “When will I get over this? How long will it hurt like this?” I guess it’s a good thing no one told me “forever.” The pain has changed, one cannot live with pain that large and throbbing forever, yet it will never go away.
I will never get over the pain and sorrow of losing my son. Yet oddly Jacob, there are many who wouldn’t consider you a person or me your mother because you never took a breath on your own or came to life outside of my womb. How little those people know about the truth, Jacob. Perhaps you and I can share a message someday about life before birth and the bond created between mother and child no matter how big the child.
It is time to close for now.