*I want to note that the other Featured Blogger today, Bonnie Engstrom, and I did not know what topic the other was writing about. Sometimes the Holy Spirit must just decide a certain topic needs more attention than others. Her “Another Life to Remember” post gives great insight into the very same topic of losing a child, albeit at a different stage. I would like to add that a beautiful group called Elizabeth Ministry offers support for women both in the process of losing a child and with dealing with grief after the loss.
I’ve been wanting to write something about this for a few months now, but have not known how to begin, or end, or even what to really say in the body of a post on this topic. The subject is so private and precious that I have honestly been afraid to write about it as I feared dishonoring the intense pain and grief of a dear friend and kindred mother. You see, I have wanted to share with you the story of a stunning baby boy named Henry who never took a breath on this planet and the intense love his mother and family have displayed for him. I have wanted to tell you how touched I’ve been by this family’s honesty and openness with the grieving process, but have not been sure how to balance sharing that with giving them the privacy and space they need to grieve their son. I have not known how I could possibly ever convey to you the beauty of this story with my own words.
Well, it seems I am going to be able to share part of Henry’s story with you after all, and with the only words that could ever help you really understand the reality of this experience. Henry’s mother has given me permission to share a letter she wrote to her precious baby boy just days after he unexpectedly died in her womb and was delivered full-term into her loving arms, surrounded by family. Henry was held and kissed and loved from the moment of birth; even though his little body remained lifeless. No amount of wishing or pleading could change that fact. He was bathed and dressed and tenderly prepared for burial by his family and honored as an esteemed member, as worthy of memorial as any other family member would be.
It doesn’t matter so much how Henry died and what the possible causes might have been. What matters in this letter is the love of a mother for her child. The kind of love that aches for a child, lost too soon. The kind of unconditional love only a parent can really understand. This letter was written shortly after Henry was laid to rest and this mother was forced to say goodbye at a time she was anticipating beginning a new life with her first son.
As I share this letter with you, I ask for your sensitivity and prayers for this family that still continues to deeply grieve the loss of this child; this son, this brother, this grandchild, this nephew, this cousin. Henry was so deeply loved by so many people before he ever was born. Let us pray that all children would be greeted and celebrated with a love as deep and unconditional as this, and let us also remember that this love of a mother for her child is the same love of our Father for each of us.
I feel as if I can’t begin…our beginning was stolen and I can only sit and long for the birth of our life together. I ache for the beauty of your spirit, the gentle soul I had already fallen so deeply in love with. Wherever that spirit is, I go to you, in my mind and my heart, and with my soul.
My sweet sweet boy how I wanted you from the moment I learned of your being, and how I want you now. I sit in an ocean of love and grief for you.
My body weeps for you now. When my tears are emptied, I bleed for you. When there is no blood, my breasts send their tears of milk. It is the salt in the wound, a reminder of our stolen moments.
I have already thought a thousand times how I should be feeling an overwhelming sense of joy and contentment, sitting with you in my arms, rocking you at the breast, smelling your sweet head, touching your soft skin, kissing your pink lips. I want you to know that I now send you love with every loving touch I give your big sister, with every loving thought I have to give to those around me. I love you through those I meet, as I give to others, I give to you.
I cannot say goodbye to you Henry. We are a part of each other, a piece of my heart always with you. I will cling to the memories of our time together. What an honor and privilege it was to carry you and feel you. With such intention you were created and prepared for.
I will treasure the day of your birth as a holy day, with such reverence and dignity as your body calmly and quietly entered this world.
I will honor your precious life by living mine with the courage and strength you have shown me. With your short life you have forever changed mine, teaching me there is no greater force than the bond of love for a child. You are my child forever, worth every moment.
From all that I am or could ever be…I love you Henry.