(This is the first thing I wrote for Jude; I wrote it on December 28, a day and a few short hours after we lost him.)
When Sean and I found out we were expecting a baby in 2012, we did what any excited first-time parents would do –we started looking at names. There were dozens of girl names that we liked, and then there was one boy name that we both agreed was perfect –Jude. Specifically, Jude David. When we found out we were having a girl, we decided we would keep Jude David tucked away in a special place until we had a son. As the months and anticipation grew in 2013, we kept our daughter’s name secret until we had her on June 7, 2013. On that glorious day, Lillianne Myra was born, and we joyfully shared her name with everyone.
On June 7, 2014, I revealed to Sean in an early Father’s Day gift that we would be adding to our seemingly perfect growing family. The early months passed quickly and at around 18 weeks, we were overjoyed to learn that we were having a little boy. Jude was the first name on my list; I really felt the need to look no further; Sean suggested we explore names, which is when the name Aedan came to me. Though I was always so sure that Jude would be my son’s name, Aedan Sean had a certain music to it that Sean and I both liked a lot.
Like any parents picking their child’s name, Sean and I were decidedly undecided. After all, a Jude David wouldn’t be the same person as an Aedan Sean. Initially, Sean leaned more toward Jude while I preferred Aedan. Simultaneously, we switched perspectives with Sean leaning toward Aedan for our son’s name and me preferring Jude again.
Jude was a special name for us. Sean had been named after John Lennon’s song, “Beautiful Boy”, for Sean Lennon. Sean’s family is all very musical. I had been named after Amy in Little Women, and I thought that giving our son a strong, uncommon Biblical name that was the subject of a song created by the iconic band from whose leader my husband’s named stemmed was utterly poetic. This was the initial reason Jude appealed so deeply to us.
The reason Jude fell back into my favor was that during our second trimester of our son’s pregnancy, we attended a Beatles tribute concert with another lovely couple and Sean’s brother, Michael. Ironically, this couple was the one we were thinking most strongly about asking to be the baby’s godparents, and I remember thinking of seeing if my husband wanted to ask them to be the baby’s godparents on December 26 when we exchanged Christmas gifts, but I forgot.
During The Beatles tribute concert, they played “Hey Jude.” I’ve never been a strong lyricist in the musical sense, and I often get the words to songs wrong. Of the song “Hey Jude”, I knew the first two words and the “Na Na Na” part. So, I sat and listened closely to a song about keeping an open heart and “taking a sad song and making it better”. Sometimes, I feel I’m often too hard or busy and forget to (or am afraid to) let my heart be as open as it should, and that night, the song’s message touched me. I kept thinking that was the song’s meaning –to be open-hearted and to be loving and receptive to feelings and to look for the beauty in even painful things would be a quality I would want my son to have for I believe that part of the way to experience life is to feel and to not close ourselves off from pain. I inwardly hoped that perhaps if I could teach my son to do this, he could teach me, too, to become a person who let others into my heart and that “would start to make it better.” That was the night the name Jude slipped back into first place.
As the months crept on, I asked Sean what he would want to name our baby. Sean still wasn’t ready to decide; he only said he didn’t know but that he was leaning toward Aedan. I told him we didn’t have to decide until the baby was born even though I went ahead and got an ‘A’ stocking to decorate our house for Christmas. Sean was uncomfortable with this level of commitment, and I assured him that a stocking wouldn’t decide our son’s name; we could wait until we met him.
Time hurtled onward, and before we knew it, we were seven weeks away from February 11 when we would meet our beautiful boy and would be able to pick a definite name. On December 26, Sean and I made an unscheduled visit to the doctor because our otherwise healthy, active baby had stopped kicking his mommy with the aggressive frequentness she had become so fond of.
For reasons known only to God Himself, our baby went to Heaven instead of our open, loving arms in the 22nd hour of December 26. Sean and I opted to do an emergency C-section to give our son every possible chance he had to live; however, God had other plans. The first words I truly remember hearing as I gained clarity coming out of anesthesia was that our son’s name was Jude David. And it was perfect.
As reality washed over me, it occurred to me that I would never be able to teach my son to “take a sad song and make it better” or to let others into his heart; however, it didn’t eclipse my awareness –despite the static of my pain—that Jude, my little Jude, had already started teaching me those lessons with more gravity than I ever thought possible.
Losing my son has shattered me; the intangible qualities that make me human have been sliced open and are bleeding together forming an image that is haunting and beautiful. Jude is in the palm of God’s hand now, and I know that he wants his mommy to use his lesson to become a better person, just as she hoped she could inspire him into becoming. I realize now that Jude was and always will be perfect; there is no need to teach him anything because he already knows all of life’s lessons. Instead, just as I have taken his suffering, I will also learn the lessons that I thought were meant for him.
My darling Jude, mommy will forever honor you by letting this pain open her heart and make her a better person. I only want to be with you again, son. I will do whatever it takes to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, so I can hold you in my arms and thank you personally for being my beautiful boy and for making my life better.