My little angel,
I’ve been composing this letter to you in my head for seven years. I’ve started and stopped many times. Can I ever find the words to properly express what you mean to me? How do I explain infinite love? How can I explain how profoundly my life has changed despite the brevity of your life?
Seven years—yet the memory of your birth is etched vividly in my mind even today. There’s so much I need to tell you. The day you were born, you were more deeply loved than you can ever imagine. Although your time in my arms was brief, my love for you has never diminished. Saying goodbye to you remains the most difficult experience of my life. Oh how I wish I had held you longer. Even though your heart had stopped beating, I didn’t want to stop looking at you. I could not stop telling you how exquisite and perfect you were. I prayed that you were at peace and resting in God’s palm. I told you that you were in the most magnificent place and that you would be ok. I didn’t know if I would. A piece of my heart died with you that night.
I did not understand grief until I had to walk out of the hospital without you. We were given a stuffed bear as a bereavement gift from another family who lost their daughter, Peace. Today, I recognize the beauty of that offering—to be able to take something home rather than leave the hospital empty-handed. I should write a letter to that family—to let them know how precious their gift was to us on that day.
The days and weeks following were a blur. I was living on the outside but dying on the inside. I shed tears for months and thought I would never catch my breath again. My arms longed to hold you. My eyes yearned to gaze into yours and to see them sparkle. My ears desired to hear your coos and giggles. I sat in your room, clutched your baby blankets close to me and begged God for clarity to understand WHY. My heart broke into a million pieces. Life felt unfair. Every friend who bore a baby that year was a searing and painful reminder of your loss. I mourned every kiss, cuddle, and dream that would never be.
I tried so hard to get my head back into life for your brother’s sake. Antonio was too little to understand and yet, it seemed he was sensitive to the difficult days. When he was a bit older, we explained how lucky he was to have you as an angel brother. He says special prayers for you and often asks me questions about you. When he draws family pictures, he always includes you. He even raised money for the American Heart Association this year to honor you. Landon, you would be so proud of your big brother.
When I later became pregnant with your little brother, Santino, I worried and worried. The ultrasound appointment was tense as the fear of a repeated heart-wrenching experience creeped into our minds. We cried when they found calcifications on Sonny’s heart and begged God for grace. We would have to wait with trepidation to see what would be. Months later, his birth was beautiful and healing. He was healthy, alert, amazing. Yet I could not help but think of you. It was a joyous, loving birth and at the same time, a heart-breaking reminder of a baby lost.
With time, we gradually started to laugh more and allow ourselves to enjoy life. Nevertheless, I sometimes experience a familiar twinge of guilt when I’m happy with my two living boys. Please know that it doesn’t mean I don’t remember you. I’ll always remember you. It’s the delicacy of our situation I guess. As much as we want time to stand still, we must always move forward.
While there will always be some sadness inherent to your birth, there is also amazing, life-changing perspective gained. I learned that during our weakest moments, friends and family provide strength. They ask for nothing in return. I learned that our vulnerability helps us to relate to others in a much deeper and rewarding way. My heart aches every time I hear of or meet couples that have experienced infant loss. Yet I know that it honors you when we connect with them. We understand the incomprehensible. We recognize that every journey is different and that everyone heals in his/her own time. I hope that sharing our story can bring comfort and continue to reflect the value of your brief life.
When I found out I had cancer, I knew that I would weather the storm. The diagnosis, while still difficult to hear, was nothing compared to losing you. Because of you, I understand the fragility of life. I understand that our time is limited and that we choose every day how we will be remembered. I work hard to honor your name, Landon. I want to be a mother you would be proud of—one who helps others and makes time and effort to be kind always. Losing you has been a constant reminder that I can take no relationship for granted.
Perhaps the greatest lesson I learned from you is that I need God and that I would NEVER make it through without His guidance. When I was in that deep hole and feeling helpless, I could not get out. I will never forget the moment I sat in church and felt the warmth wash over me. A healing I can’t fully describe. I was wrapped in love and my pain was lifted. I knew you were with Him and I finally found peace. I like to imagine that it will be your eyes I meet first and who will take my hand to lead me “home.”
Landon, I am certain that you would have been an amazing young man. Perhaps you would have shared the tender heart of your older brother, Antonio. Maybe you would have some of the spunk of your little brother, Sonny. I imagine you would have grown tall like your Daddy but been a little stubborn like your Mommy. Your heart may have been too big on earth but its made perfect in heaven.
You’ve taught me that love is endless and that there is good in every life challenge. Your loss taught me that I am stronger than I think. Your body may be gone but you will forever be on my heart.
Rest in peace, my baby.