Home > Death, Family, Friends, Love > The loss, love and life of baby J

The loss, love and life of baby J

Tonight I attended a memorial for a baby I never got to meet.

I knew baby J’s parents wanted to share the joy of his life, but I wanted to weep when I stood in front of pictures and keepsakes from that short life.

Two onesies. A pair of booties. A pacifier.

How is he not still here to wear these?

This makes no sense. How is he not here?


My husband introduced me to his friend, J’s mom.

We hugged. I murmured “I’m sorry” too softly for even my own ears, then a louder “so nice to meet you.”

She said that motherhood had opened up her heart to love so immense she could never have imagined it. She asked how my kids were doing.

I faltered through a few sentences before I said I felt guilty talking about my sons.

No, no, no, she said, touching my arm with an encouraging smile. I have to live this vicariously now.

Her husband started a slideshow.

Pictures showed him kissing her pregnant belly. Them arriving at the hospital. Their beautiful newborn baby boy testing out his lungs.

I smiled at the pictures. I laughed at a couple of them, as well as occasional appreciative comments from the peanut gallery.

I cried, too. I wanted to celebrate J’s life, and I did, but I couldn’t stop a few tears from spilling over.

Each of the moments he lived was beautiful, as was that he showed his parents the immeasurable love of parenthood.

But why couldn’t he have lived longer?

Videos replaced pictures in the slideshow.

Seeing J in living, breathing color helped me feel his presence instead of his absence, to see him as his parents saw–see–him.

When it came time to add my own note to my husband’s in the guest book, I read Anthony’s message. He’d written a lovely note, but there was one more thing I wanted to say.

I thanked J’s parents for sharing his life and their love with us.

We said farewell to J’s dad, again expressing our condolences.

“The good in this is we learned the power of love,” he replied. His eyes danced around the room, landing briefly on the many friends and family who’d come to share J’s memory. “Imagine if we always treated people with this much love.”

“What a world that would be,” I murmured.

What a world that would be.

  1. November 23, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    Funerals for children are so tough. J’s parents sound like incredible people. So glad you were given a proper opportunity to grieve such a horribly confusing thing. x

    • November 23, 2014 at 7:41 pm

      I “researched” the whole way there, as if I could prepare for it the way I’d prepare for a negotiation call. Of course, there’s only so much reading up can do to prepare for some things.

      J’s parents started the evening my husband’s friends, but I hope–and believe–time will transform them into our friends.

  2. November 23, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    “Imagine if we always treated people with this much love.” So very true. I’m so sorry for your friend’s loss. ❤

    • November 23, 2014 at 7:43 pm

      My mind keeps coming back to these words. I just can’t make sense of how I can come home to my own baby when they’ll never hold theirs again. I don’t think there’s any sense I will ever be able to make of it. But … love. That is something I can work with. I’m so grateful for his words. ♥

  3. November 23, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    My heart is breaking 😥 It’s just not fair. I know that sounds so childish to say, but it just isn’t fair. They sound like such wonderful people. It sounds like they gave their baby a wonderful life.

    • November 23, 2014 at 7:50 pm

      I’m right there with you on all of this. As my eyes scanned over the photos, especially his fuzzy newborn hair, the unfairness of it was staggering. It’s still staggering now.

      I wish there were anything I could do to ease this atrocious unfairness, but … that’s not within my power. I’m trying to orient myself toward their moving words on love. I really do believe love is how we can change the future, no matter how sealed is the past.

      • November 23, 2014 at 7:55 pm

        This post has moved me so deeply I’m finding it really hard to find the right words. 😥 I do agree love is how we can change the future.

  4. November 23, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    Beautifully expressed. My prayers and thoughts are with the parents of Baby J.

  5. November 23, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    Just reading this, just reading your heart; my tears flowed for you and for Baby J’s parents. Imagine the world we could create. I love you

  6. November 23, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    That is heartbreaking, but beautifully written. Life is precious, even when – no, especially when it is taken too soon. Thanks for sharing!

    • November 23, 2014 at 7:54 pm

      Thank you for reading and commenting. It really is precious, whether measured in days, weeks or years.

  7. November 23, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    How hard it must have been to share for all of you.

    • November 23, 2014 at 7:56 pm

      What was hard was really understanding–viscerally, not just intellectually–how little power I had to change or fix anything for J’s parents. I was glad to have written Friday evening’s blog to, thinking of it, guide myself away from obsessing over fixing and toward things like sharing and supporting.

  8. November 23, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    Oh I cried. What lovely people, how sorry I am.

  9. November 23, 2014 at 8:08 pm


  10. November 23, 2014 at 8:47 pm

    So bitterly unfair. And what wonderful people to face their tragedy with love and to share that love. I suspect that already knew the power of love – but am awed that they could be so open.
    I hope they do become friends with both of you – and your boys.

    • November 24, 2014 at 1:24 pm

      The husband said how they feel changes moment by moment, which makes so much sense, but that the love is always there.

      Your closing sentence … I don’t know why I didn’t think of that last night, but I do hope that.

  11. November 24, 2014 at 5:16 am

    Powerful words. I’ve seen my share of untimely deaths this year and it never gets any easier. My son’s friend died in a freak bike accident over the summer — he was 12. I must have cried for days. Loss and grief touch us all and this heavy pain is something we can all connect with. But love truly does heal all, I do believe that.

    • November 24, 2014 at 8:44 am

      That has to be one of my biggest nightmare scenarios – my children losing someone dear to them, whether it’s grandparents or a close friend. When one of my daughter’s closest friends had an emergency appendectomy a couple of years ago, I was freaking out for my daughter almost as much as for the girl in surgery. I didn’t want to see my child suffering the grief of losing someone at such a young age. Bless you for what you and your son and all who loved his friend have gone through this year.

    • November 24, 2014 at 1:28 pm

      Oh, how my heart breaks reading that.

      I smiled through the first song of the slideshow. It was the beginning of the second song–combined with those images–that smashed my resolve not to cry: “All You Need Is Love.” I don’t think I’d really thought about it, but I left there feeling like love is a much more effective healer than time. Time alone doesn’t do too much. Love … it really is the brightest light.

  12. November 24, 2014 at 10:05 am

    I can’t even imagine.

    • November 24, 2014 at 1:37 pm

      I almost felt like I was preparing for a negotiation as we drove to the memorial. I read through bunches of blogs to get an idea what would and would not be helpful. Anthony laughed at me, but it’s in my blood now to acquire as much knowledge as I can before entering any new territory.

      I walked in thinking I’d feel a little steadier because of all the reading I’ve done in the car and previously … raw, heartfelt, unfiltered stuff. But then I saw those pictures and was once again reminded the limits of my imagination. I really can’t imagine it. And when I picked up my baby from his grandmas’ house moments after publishing this, I was struck again by that.

      I wish I could step into theirs and others’ mourning hearts, the better to understand and help lift.

      • November 24, 2014 at 2:51 pm

        I honestly hope that’s something I’ll never understand. My kids are my world. I don’t even want to think about it.

  13. November 24, 2014 at 10:45 am

    oh my. i’m in absolute tears. this was so incredibly moving. beautiful. sad. just so moving. thank you for sharing.

  14. November 24, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    It is such an awful thing to go through. Right before I got pregnant last year my friend’s little 5 year-old girl was hit and killed walking home from school. It was the first funeral I ever attended. At the viewing I couldn’t even speak. I just silently stood beside my friend. It was all too much, I went to the funeral but didn’t stay after the service because it was too much, I couldn’t handle it and my friend had more than a packed house. I still think about her to this day, a life cut so short. I wasn’t super close with her but I knew her well enough, she will always stay with me now.

    • November 24, 2014 at 1:46 pm

      she will always stay with me now.
      Something about these words resonates with me so deeply right now. I’ve read over them a dozen times with tears in my eyes. These lives were cut woefully short and that is a true, profound tragedy, but … as I wrote it in a post late last year:

      “That’s right. Because we love each other so much now, little pieces of that love will be with us forever, so that we’re always together, even when our bodies are apart.”

      I would never, ever say this to someone who’s grieving, or try pointing them toward any kind of silver lining, but that’s how I feel in general about loved ones who have died. It’s what I was trying to find words for when I sat on the porch and took a picture of my shoes, not wanting to take a picture of anything else that evening.

      After I’d buckled my shoes, I looked up at the sky and felt something huge and beautiful and painful I couldn’t articulate. I couldn’t figure it out until I read your words. Thank you.

      • November 24, 2014 at 9:47 pm

        You’re very welcome. People touch our lives in so many different ways. I’m not sure I could explain what that loss did to me (nothing compared to people closer to her but even so) and now she will forever be apart of me. A big event in my life time that changed me more than I could ever properly explain.

  15. November 24, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    My heart breaks for them.

  16. November 25, 2014 at 6:05 am

    Beyond sad. I’m not sure why these things happen. We never will. I pray these parents find the hope and courage to try again. I have a friend who lost a son at 13 and years later I still marvel at her courage and ability to smile and find happiness in life. I guess you have to go on, there’s no choice.

  17. November 25, 2014 at 9:41 am

    This is a beautiful post.

    My sister Beth was an Neo-natal ICU nurse. She said she had come to believe in reincarnation just because she could see no other fair outcome for the babies she saw pass.

    Shortly after she told me that, I heard this song for the first time. It has comforted me far too many times.

  18. November 26, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    In the wake of losing our daughter, my husband reminded me that the fact that it hurt this badly points to just how much we loved her. I think sometimes we don’t even realize how much love we are capable of until tragedy strikes.

  1. November 23, 2014 at 10:09 pm
  2. December 13, 2014 at 7:15 am
  3. March 8, 2015 at 4:32 am
  4. March 8, 2015 at 5:16 am

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