Hey Jude — Raising Your Siblings

Dear Jude,

I can only assume you’re here and you see it all. In fact, I saw a cardinal today. It flew across the road as I was about to make a right turn into the cul de sac, and I immediately thought Jude bird. I simultaneously recognized the absurdity in believing that every male cardinal that crosses my path is you sending a message or watching over me while also feeling comforted by the notion and assured in the belief that –yes, it was you.

Anyway, as you also know, Lillianne has been carrying Jude Bear around with her for over a month now. Not the white one-and-only Jude Bear I got at the hospital, the one that realistically, some emotional employee pulled from the gift-shop shelves and pulled a wooden stick that held a tiny mylar balloon with the hopeful “Congratulations” message on out of his neck (there’s always been a hole in my Jude Bear’s neck, and this is why I think it’s there). Then, they carted the white bear upstairs to become part of the hospital’s bereavement kit. Something to give me as an agonizing consolation for the fact that you weren’t there. That you couldn’t be there. That no amount of drug-induced sleep would lead to me waking up and finding that it had indeed all been a bad dream and that you could and would open your eyes and suck air into your lungs. In moments like this, when I remember, the pain of it is overwhelming, and I’m paralyzed by the unfairness of not having you here.

I digress, lest I get lost in memory. The bear Lillianne carries is the birthday gift I got for myself last year. With a handy donation, I was able to procure a Molly Bear. I placed the order on my birthday, the day I turned 35, the day I felt sure would lead to a (somehow) better, more successful me. This Jude Bear weighs exactly 4.2 lbs, the same weight you were when your soul left this earth, darling. I cried the first time I held him because it was like holding you again. It was so bittersweet. Too soon, that Jude Bear came to rest on a shelf until recently when Lillianne started to cry about you.

I’m not sure what has provoked your very dramatic sister’s emotional torrent as it pertains to you. She is conflicted about life and heaven and all of the things that must have transpired for you to be there and not here. I assure her your leaving us was peaceful, as peaceful a death can be. I assure her that you’re with her–I know you are, darling, I know you are, and I assure her that one day, she’ll see you. I promise her that you wouldn’t want her to be sad. Life is for the present, not the past nor the future. We live now.

I sometimes wonder what I should do differently or better to help your sisters accept and understand our unique family dynamic; however, I can think of nothing better than the truth. No sugar-coating. No needless sensation. Just…the truth, which is that for some reason, you are there and we are here, but despite that, we are together. I think it sends a beautiful message that there is wonder and greatness just beyond the veil fo what we can see and experience in this life. These sufferings give us strength to help others. That we are in it together means that we can grow and learn together, and one day, as we each go through the veil in our own time, those who remain can be at peace knowing that in that moment, all is right and as it should be, even as we weep and even as we mourn what we must ultimately wait for.

I love you, sweetheart. Thank you for this understanding and growth and experience. I’m selfish, and I’d rather have you here in a literal way. But, I live now, not then nor in what has yet to come, so all I know is my love and gratitude for you the way you are to me. My perfect, beautiful boy. I miss you, Jude.

Until forever,