Hey Jude – Thanks to You

Hi, Sweetheart.

It will be Thanksgiving in one and a half hours. You’ll be 11 months old. It’s really hard to believe that I should be planning your birthday party right now…perhaps bemoaning (while smiling as I wouldn’t really be bothered) that I’m planning a one-year-old’s birthday party while also doing Christmas. I wonder if you’d be walking by now. I’m sure you would; you were so busy…those little legs never stopped when you lived inside of mommy.

I can just see you now puttering after your sister; you might still use a walker; I’m sure you’d terrorize the cats (it’s okay; after what they did to the furniture, they’d have it coming). I think I would secretly be worried that no one would come to a birthday party the day after Christmas, but I’m sure they would…surely.

I bet your smile would light up a room. I bet you’d have a funny giggle…something weird, perhaps overly effusive…something that would make everyone laugh when you did. I’m sure we’d have nicknamed you 100 times over by now; I bet I’d call you my Joy Boy because you’d fill us with so much joy.

When we’d pray with the family tomorrow, we would say thanks for you along with Lillianne, and there’d be a moment in Daddy Joe’s prayer where perhaps he’d mention you were nearly one and how thankful we were for that. Yes, you’d have been a preemie, so we’d be very thankful for your health.

I wish with all of my heart that I was eagerly counting down one more month before we reached a year on nursing. I wish with all of my heart that I wasn’t here writing this…that I was in bed, perhaps still awake, thinking of things for tomorrow like when I would start braising the cabbage and where my popover pan was.

I miss you.

I miss the weight of where you should be on my hip as I try to do things like be a good mom for Lillianne and cook food and keep the house reasonably clean.

I miss you when I look at your photos and am forcibly reminded that we celebrated your birthday and every birthday that you’ll never have on December 31 last year.

I miss getting to hold you even though the few times I did hold you, you weren’t there.

I miss that you were warm the first time we held you.

I miss that you didn’t look quite like yourself again after that.

I miss you so much, and your daddy does, too.

After we let you go last December, your daddy said he wanted to get you back and to hold you one last time. I think I understand that better now than I did then…at least now, I can think of what it felt like to hold you, and I wish so much that I could cradle you to my chest again…just one more time…and kiss your beautiful, innocent little face and imagine what it’d look like with a smile one it.

I know you’re smiling at us all of the time. You do make me so happy. You make me so much a better person, and I’d be lost without you.

Please know that I’m thankful for you; I’m thankful for everything you do. I wouldn’t be me without you…none of us would. So, thank you my baby. I’m so happy and so blessed that you’re mine.

 

Hey Jude — When a Mother Loses a Baby

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about other moms and dads who have lost babies by miscarriage or stillbirth. I used to think that the distant look of intense sadness and longing was a hallmark of cliché writing and not something that actually happened until I saw it. The first person I saw it in was a really sweet person who has one daughter but no other children even though I know she very much wanted them (though I don’t know what her journey to concluding that her one baby would be all entailed). I saw that look when I told her I was expecting you, Jude.

She smiled, but the expression didn’t reach her eyes. Her eyes looked heavy and haunted, as if she were suddenly remembering something very painful. I have no idea what that looks like in me, but I know what it feels like. Nearly every time I see a birth announcement or a pregnancy announcement or a mom and her toddler and her belly at Target, the gnawing starts. It took ages to pinpoint my feeling. It wasn’t jealousy; no, I didn’t want their lives. I like mine just fine. It wasn’t anger or resentment; how could I begrudge anyone a healthy, happy baby? No. It was something else. It was an aching sadness, a reminder of you…of the fact that you’re not here, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

Today marks eight months since you were born still, and I think the anesthesia is starting to wear off. The reality that I can’t hold you is sometimes more painful to bear; where my emotions didn’t previously bubble to the surface so quickly, they do more so now. Last night, I was reading a post by another mother who’d lost her child about her family portrait, and I realize that ours will always have a space filled by a little angel. Some families take photos with stuffed animals to symbolize their little angel baby, and I’ve thought of this…of taking a photo with Jude Bear, so that you’re “there” in a way. I try to not get too attached to that little white bear because I know it’s not you, but when I go to bed at night, it makes me feel better to hold it close to my stomach. I don’t know why, but it does.

Oh, my little Jude. It’s hard to believe that today, you could be eight months old, crawling…babbling…eating baby food, and maybe even pulling up. You’d be scooting around in the Joovy Spoon walker; I can’t even imagine what Lillianne would be doing with you or to you. I’d like to think she’d be a generous big sister to you and would take care of you and love on you in spite of her own needs, which as you know are many given she’s only two and still very much a baby herself.

I know you know this, but I need to say it out loud: you will always be my perfect middle child, my son, and no matter what happens, you cannot and will not be replaced. No one has dared to suggest that to me, ever, but I wanted to say it. I wanted to say it for you and for me and for anyone who might disagree. Life happens so quickly, and I’m thankful for all that does and will filter through the prism of life.

I think it’s okay to be happy and sad at the same time. I think it’s okay to ache for my own sorrow during times of others’ joys…while also being truly happy for them and prayerful that they never (please God), never know my grief. I can’t speak for all mothers whose babies are in heaven or whose miracles never came, but I know that’s how I feel. I also think it’s okay to go to bed at night clutching a little white teddy bear that was given to me with a box of brief memories at the hospital instead of my baby boy warm in a blanket.

Though I’m thankful, I am sorry that I have a stuffed animal to cuddle instead of you and that you never got to know your sister (or rather, that she never got to know you…it’s my assumption that you’re all-seeing now and that you watch over us). I’m sorry that your father is so distraught in his own way over losing you. You complete us, you see. It’s not your fault you’re not here, and it’s not our fault or anyone’s fault. It’s just that our lives on Earth aren’t complete, and they never will be. A huge part of my soul lives in Heaven with you, and though I can wait, I’ll be so happy when I can feel complete again. I love you. Happy eight-month birthday, my Jude.

Peace and Pleasure in Pain

Hey, Jude.

I think about you a lot…especially when I see cardinals.  I love that Lillianne says, “Jude bird,” or like today, when she called her / your blue bear, “Big Jude,” (because little Jude is the white bear that I sleep with).  Thinking of you is such a tender act.  I usually smile inwardly whether I’m looking at a young family with babies roughly two years apart or I see Lillianne playing with one of the toys that was meant for you.  Certainly, I know that telltale sadness, that curtain of pain and longing overshadows my gazes, but for the most part, when I think of you, I feel peaceful and full.

I feel full because I’ve read about so many people who are empty, literally and figuratively.  I read about a woman who has a nest that was emptied too soon; in the course of 11 years, she had nine miscarriages and stillbirths including one full-term stillbirth; she is now post-menopausal.  How can I feel sorry for me other than to miss you so much?  I feel so blessed that we had as much time together as we did, sweetheart, 33 weeks.  You were so active in mommy, and I know you recall how we’d laugh thinking of how you’d out-monkey your sister.  As much as we joked about being nervous about our little acrobat, I know that I for one was excited to have another animated little angel.  And you will always be my busiest baby.  I love you so much, my heart.

Another reason I feel full is because I’ve read about so many mommies and daddies who had to watch their pure, innocent babies suffer before they were taken to heaven, often before one year of age, sometimes later.  We may never know what happened to you, darling, but one thing that I am so thankful for is that you didn’t suffer.  While you’ll never know the pleasures we’re allowed in this world, you’ll never know the horrors.  Also, and perhaps selfishly, I know you never suffered.  You and I were together, and you were in a cocoon of warmth and undying love and the only home you ever knew when you slipped quietly away despite the chaos that was going on around you and despite the efforts to save you.  So, as painful as it is, and as selfishly as I wanted to see you take a breath and to hear you scream from your lungs, I’m so thankful that you were warm, safe, and happy with me when God chose you.

Most of all, I’m thankful for the times when I feel pain.  I’ve finally understood what it means to feel pleasure in pain.  In the immediate aftermath of losing you, I cried so deeply and hollowly that I thought I would fall into an abyss.  The agony was consuming, and it was terrifying.  Eventually, the crippling pain abated to the extent that it came in doses, like a terrifying medicine that I both craved and abhorred.  I can only assume the human body does this as a means for us to continue to function and adapt because without this survival mechanism, I’m not sure I would have been able to be functional for the sake of your sister and your father.  So, the bouts of pain where I felt the wind knocked out of me and the ground open below my feet decreased in frequency (though, never intensity), and now, we are nearly six months away from December 26, 2014, and those periods of agony come randomly yet still, less frequently (though I think of you every day).

What has changed is that I don’t fear the pain anymore; I welcome it.  I love feeling so much longing and love for you that I feel as though I could die from the overwhelming pressure of it all.  It’s such a pleasureful pain because it makes me feel close to you.  It makes me feel like I’m holding you again.  It makes me feel like I’m touching your hands or your feet or kissing your face.  It’s like a memory personified, and it reminds me that I’m not okay, even though I seem okay day to day.  I’m not ready to be “okay”; I’ll never be okay. I never want to be okay.  I never want for life to be so distracting that I cannot access these feelings.  So, when I miss you, and it cuts like a knife, and I cry without breathing, I get to spend special time missing you and loving you, my sweet second child, my middle angel.  I get to mourn and grieve the birthdays, the graduations, the questions, the discoveries, the wedding, the first car, the anxiety, and the hugs, laughter, kisses, and smiles that we will never share.  I get to imagine what those would have been like, and revel in the chasm of missing you.

It’s a rare pleasure, and it makes up for all of those times I wanly smile and try to be unselfish and remember that others suffered more than you and I did.  I feel it’s one of the lessons that you’ve taught me, sweetheart.  I should be thankful even at times where it seems there’s little or nothing to be thankful for.  I appreciate you understanding and allowing me my painful indulgences; I hope you understand, and I promise, I’m learning peace from you, my perfect little angel Jude.

Just Now, 5 Months Ago

Five months ago today, at this time, you were still alive in me.  You’re always alive in me, but five months ago, there were still moments where I would feel you move and have hope of meeting you.  Five months ago today, at this time, I wasn’t scared yet.  I didn’t realize you were in danger.  It doesn’t make me feel worse nor does it make me feel better that no one knows what happened to you.  By all accounts, you should be here.  You’re rare and special.  I’m sure that’s why God chose you to come with Him so quickly.

***

Today, I was holding Lillianne, and we walked past your photo on the wall.  She said, “Baby, boy.”  I said, “That’s Jude.”  She said, “Awe, Jude.” … “Sad Jude.”  My darling, are you sad?  I hope you’re not.  I hope you’re not sad for us or for your sister.  You’re a beacon of hope and a continual source of joy and comfort.  Because of you, I have a person, a presence in my life that is eternally innocent.  In the world we live in, I don’t think you know how rare that is.  To have you and the presence of your purity is a constant reminder that I can be a better person, that there’s a reason to be happy and thankful, and that beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder.

***

Hey, Jude.  Thanks to you, I do take sad songs and make them better, and while I’m not always eternally optimistic because I’m not perfect, I can’t possible describe what your life has done to me.  You’re in my core, little angel, and I love you.  Daddy loves you.  Lillianne loves you.  You are love, and you are loved.  My son.

Hey Jude — Thinking of You

Hi, Sweetheart.

Today was four months since we first brought you into this world in a most unconventional way.  Your little life was lived in such a strange place compared to most, but I refuse to believe it was any less significant.  You’re so very special, darling.

Today at church, Father David gave us a hand-woven blanket shawl made to comfort us when we are lonely for you.  We decided to get a paver stone for the church in memory of you, too.  I hope others will see it and wonder about the life of Jude Delcambre.  I often do.

Today, Lillianne pointed to a photo of you and your daddy that sits on our bookshelf, and she said Jude.  Your sister is so smart and special, darling.  It amazes me how delightful she is, and it hurts my heart so much to think of how special you and she would have been together.  Mommy doesn’t blame God nor is mommy upset with God, but mommy can’t help but wonder why….especially while she sees everyone else having babies and babies close in age and such.  That’s not to say Mommy isn’t happy for the other babies and families; it’s just to say that mommy feels sad because she misses you so very, very much.

I can’t help but think hard of you sometimes, Jude.  When I say hard, I mean that I think of you in the kind of way that makes me feel like I’m being vacuumed into a pit.  The depths of my pain and despair and loss of you are boundless.  I want to scream and cry and write and run and paint and hurt and float away for the misery that wells within.  There’s a depth of suffering that I know that I don’t know how I contain other than the hours in the day in which to feel and to have steam expire and I simply fall asleep on principle.  If It weren’t for that, I think I could go crazy for pain.

Of course, because i love you, and I know you want and deserve a well mommy, I don’t, and i won’t go crazy.  I’ll keep trying and I’ll keep hoping.  I’ll keep being good to daddy, and I’ll keep being good to Lillianne.  I’ll hold you in my heart.  I hope that we will have more siblings to know about you and to be impacted by you, sweetie.  I want you to know how special you are.  Even though I can’t hug you with my arms, I hug you every day in my heart, and you know it’s a big, tight squeeze.  I wish I could hug you with my arms and kiss you and feel your warmth and your smile beneath my cheek.  I wish I could hear your giggle.  I can’t even imagine it, but I imagine you love me as much as I love you.

Every time I see a red bird, I say your name, Jude; I say it out loud. Our neighbor told me that red birds were our loved ones coming from heaven to check on us.  I like to think that’s so, and if so, thank you for coming so often.  My baby boy, I need you, and I miss you, so thank you for the birds.  Thank you for the sun and the wind.  Thank you for being you, exactly as you are.  Wait for mommy and daddy in Heaven.  I love you and miss you.  Happy four month birthday, darling.  You’re my little world.

Hey Jude – “Would Be Birthday”

Hi, Sweetheart. Today was February 10, 2015, which means that tomorrow is your “should-be” birthday. Today I spent the morning with your sister, I let her spend time with Emie and Aunt Ding Ding while I worked for a bit, then she and I napped, and then we did Mellow Milers with some close friends (their daughter turned 6 months today; she would have been your friend, darling).

 

I know it doesn’t sound like I had much downtime, and perhaps I didn’t. In my spare time, my thoughts were with you. I thought about how “normally” today, I would be savoring my last day with your sister as an “only” child because I knew that life would change beyond my comprehension once you arrived. I know it’s so silly, but I worried about her once we had you. Truthfully, I worried about both of you. Would you receive enough attention? Would she feel neglected and abandoned? What would happen to you when and if we had a third baby? Would I make mistakes relegating you to a life as the classic “middle child”? Would you have retentive issues as a result of that predicament?

 

Frivolously, I worried endlessly about those things –in the back of my mind; rarely at the forefront, that is. And then, on December 26, your birthday came early. I remember sitting in the hospital bed feeling utterly ridiculous for worrying that Lillianne would somehow be missing something when our attention wasn’t solely devoted to her. Never was it more poignant or obvious to me that what she will miss will always be you. She won’t even truly know it, but I will. I will always miss you, sweetheart.

 

It also occurred to me that I will never have a “middle child”. Even if you have two or three more siblings (let’s be realistic –it will probably be two), no one will be a “middle child.” As intuitively as I knew that something was going to happen to you (certainly, I never expected you would ascend immediately into heaven), I also recognize that I will never have a “middle child.” That concern –the one where I might ruin a baby by sandwiching it between two others—was turned over to God when you were. Like everything associated with losing you, it’s a bittersweet revelation.

 

So, tomorrow is not your birthday. I’m not packing a bag or getting one more night’s rest before the much-anticipated moment of meeting you. I’m not giving mom, your Emie, the gift I hoped to give her (a perfect new grandbaby, you) for her birthday, which you two would have shared. Your father and I aren’t cuddling Lillianne knowing how much life will change. We didn’t spend the last week hurriedly getting the essentials together for your arrival. We did none of that.

 

I refuse to say we “should” be doing those things because what happened, happened. You are in heaven by God’s own will for I know I did everything to keep you on Earth and with me. God knows how much I love you and how much I would have cared for you. So, I am placating all of this with the firm belief that what “should” have happened is what happened and that tomorrow, your would-be birthday is actually a day like any other day (other than the special feature of it being my mother’s birthday).

 

Tomorrow, I intend to spend time with your sister and visit your Emie and seek comfort from your father. I intend to spend time with our family, darling, and we will think about you. In my heart, I’ll be sad for love and longing of you, but I’ll trust that you want us to be happy together and to be “okay” (a subjective concept).

 

I miss you, Jude. If it’s not too much trouble, please feel free to visit me in my dreams and tell me how heaven is for you. It will surely be a while before I get to see you there. Please know how much your father and I love you and miss you. Please be with us in our hearts and help your daddy and me sustain in these turbulent times of what should be and what is.

 

I love you, Jude David Delcambre. Happy Would Be Birthday, darling angel.

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Hey Jude — “The Little Things: A Mother’s Rambling Thoughts”

(Written 1.21.2015)

It’s the little things that seem to get to me.

 

I’m a little more than thrown by the fact that it’s almost been a month since we lost you. We haven’t even passed your birthday yet. I’m confused by how I feel. I don’t cry as much as I would like. I miss you, and I know I miss you because things are different. The silly little things that I was excited about before I had you –like, being able to have a glass of wine or getting back into shape, don’t matter at all to me anymore. I would never exercise or have another glass a wine again if it meant having you with me, sweetheart.

 

It’s funny –in a way that’s not funny at all—how the things that I thought were exciting and important for after I had you don’t matter now that I’ve lost you. When I think of your little angel face and your soft skin (still covered in little peach fuzz to keep you warm) all I can think of how nothing else matters.

 

I know you’re watching over us from heaven, and I know you see Lillianne grow and say new words every day. I remember when Lillianne was a baby, your Auntie KK said she wondered what Lillianne’s voice was going to sound like. I know you can see my heart and that you know it’s the most wonderful sound in the world to me. Mommy wonders often what your little voice would have sounded like. What words would you have said first? What would be your favorite words? Would you love Elmo, too? Would you have toddled after your big sister? Would you have cried when she cried like when the baby who would’ve been your friend, Cate, cries when her sister, Sophia cries. My angel boy. You would have been so sweet; I just know it.

 

I miss you so much my little angel heart. I think about your Uncle Adam a lot, too. You and Lillianne would have been the same age apart as Uncle Adam and Mommy are. I think about Uncle Adam when he was five and in kindergarten. I can remember his little cheeks and pointy chin; his shining eyes and hopeful expression. He never wanted to hurt anyone’s feelings; he cared about everyone. I wonder if you, too, would have been as kindhearted as Uncle Adam. In the thoughts I have about you, I believe you would have been.

 

I’m sure you are thinking that I’m making a mistake in thinking of only how perfect you are and would have been. I promise I’m not so silly as to assume that you, too, wouldn’t jump on the furniture like your sister or wouldn’t throw your food when you were tired of it. I know those things would have made me tired. I wonder if I would have had less patience with those things had things been different.

 

I’ll never know, will I? I know that losing you made me realize how silly getting tired or stressed or frustrated over little things – a messy kitchen or unfolded laundry or having to get up 10 times a minute to keep your sister off of the furniture—truly is.

There’s no hyperbole for what I would or wouldn’t do to be able to have a few moments with you. Knowing the life I’ll have to wait a lifetime to meet (you, my son), I don’t feel like I can be bothered being upset over anything. I realize –and it scares me so much—that there are no guarantees for anything. I am not guaranteed to have your sister forever…or your father. I’m not guaranteed that you’ll have any younger siblings that you can watch over from heaven. Darling Jude. I don’t know if I did or how much I did take it for granted before, but losing you has exponentially impacted my desire to not take any of life’s moments or the people I love most for granted. Life is too short.

 

It’s ironic, in a way, that it’s the little things that matter least and the little things that matter most. Or maybe I’m saying that wrong. I just know that small things have become even smaller. Things that seemed like they mattered have no relevance at all. Little moments like reading a bedtime story to Lillianne or watching her dance around with her guitar dog toy thing rather than tidying up matter so much more than they used to. I always recognized that those moments were fleeting and enjoyed them, but I could have enjoyed more of them, and I could have enjoyed them better.

 

If living in regret weren’t such a frivolous undertaking, I would feel ashamed for how much I looked forward to your sister falling asleep when she was an infant, so I could have some personal time. I know you know that I enjoyed my time with her and that I loved her and held her and took care of her, but I know you also now know how I looked forward to her falling asleep, so I could have personal time.

 

Oh Jude. The perspective I gained is immense, but the cost is even more so. It breaks Mommy’s heart that I didn’t have the ability on my own merits to become a smarter, better, and wiser person without losing you. I promise I would have been a good mommy to you if you could have stayed. I would have loved you more and more everyday, just like I did when you lived inside of me and just like I do now. You’re my “son” shine, sweet boy. Thank you for the light and for helping me see the difference between the small things and the little things. I love you, Jude David Delcambre.

Hey Jude – “You are Real”

(Started December 28, 2014; completed December 29.  This was shared at Jude’s funeral on December 31, 2014 alongside a velveteen rabbit with which he was buried.)

I don’t think it matters when we lose our babies…they’re real, and our love for them and our pain from losing them is so very real no matter how far along we get in thinking we might meet them and hold them and hear them laugh or soothe their tears.

 

Dear Jude,

 

Last night, Mommy and Daddy came “home” from the hospital. You didn’t come with us because you were already at home. Instead, Daddy and I brought your very few but very precious Earthly treasures home in a little box.

 

The first thing I did when I got home was hold your sister. She was very upset; I think somehow, she knew what happened and she was sad that she wouldn’t get to meet you. When you physically lived inside of Mommy, Lillianne would hug you and kiss you. She would lay her head on you and rub her little mouth on you. She loved you so much, sweetheart. We all did, and we all do, and we all always will.

 

Mommy was very thankful that your GiGi and Grandpa and Uncle Adam were here when she and Daddy came home because she needed to find some things to give you. In two days, Mommy and Daddy will have the only birthday party they will ever be able to have for you. Mommy wants that to be so very special because you are so very special.

 

When we knew Lillianne was coming, Mommy had what’s called a shower. Your Auntie Becca had a book shower, and everyone who came brought books that they thought would help your sister grow into a beautiful kind-hearted little woman. Auntie Becca, who is Mommy’s special friend, gave Lillianne a copy of The Velveteen Rabbit. Mommy hadn’t read that story in years.

 

After Lillianne was born, Mommy would nurse her and rock her and read to her. One book Mommy chose to read was The Velveteen Rabbit. Mommy cried as she read about a little stuffed bunny that belonged to a little boy; the bunny so very desperately wanted to be real. The wise skin horse helped the bunny explain that we became real when we are loved.

 

As the little boy grew close to the bunny, the bunny was filled with feelings of love and joy when the little boy called him “real”; however, the bunny’s heart was broken when the little boy became sick and they would have to be separated. The little velveteen bunny was taken away from the little boy.

 

It was at this time that a miracle happened; a magical fairy came to the little bunny and fully transformed him from being a little boy’s treasured doll and companion into a real bunny who could live among real bunnies. At the end of the story, the bunny goes to a special place to live with other real bunnies; though, he returns occasionally to watch over the little boy who loved him so dearly and whose love brought him to life.

 

I am telling you this, my darling Jude, because I feel like it’s a metaphor for all of us. Though we never got to see you blink your eyes or hear you cry or feel you take a breath, you are so very loved, and you are so very real to us.

 

My Jude. You are so real. Just like the rabbit in the story, you were taken away from the ones who wanted to keep you and shower you with love forever and ever and you were taken to a magical place called heaven with other real little babies; you are all real my darling for you are all so very loved. I pray that just like in the story, you will watch over Daddy, Lillianne, and me. We will need your love, my darling, to somehow be happier that you are in a magical place for real, loved babies and that we cannot be the ones who hold you close every day.

 

As a little birthday present and so everyone will know how real you are, Mommy and Daddy are giving you a little stuffed velveteen rabbit to keep you company in your magical place. We love you, sweet Jude, and we can’t wait to see you again one day and to be real with you in heaven.

Hey Jude

(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.