To my first son Elijah
This month marks three years since you left us. Summer warmth is rising over the freshly dug garden and our new home feels big enough for a hundred children to play in. Yet there is only one little boy, rather than two, toddling around with bare feet upon the messy kitchen floor. I love him with more feeling than I ever knew existed within me, but every so often (in truth, its at least once a day) I feel the presence of emptiness. When I watch him play with his bricks and sand pit, there’s an outline of another child next to him, a slightly older child with brown hair, pale skin and large hands. You are that boy, and while I can feel you all the time, you’re not with us, and won’t ever be again.
We visit you a lot. At first, we would come and sit with you all the time. It was the only way to feel close to you. Even on our wedding day we drove to your resting place and celebrated with you. Had you been alive, you would have been at our ceremony as a page boy, no doubt wearing an oversized baby tuxedo with silly side-combed hair. I want you to know you were part of our wedding vows. We never stopped being your parents, and took amazing life lessons from your existence.
I often wonder what you’d be doing right now. As a three year old, you’d be into everything. I imagine you’d be energetic and curious, with a wild-streak that your Dad and I share. You’d be heading off to nursery with your favourite teddy bear in hand, creating marvellous finger paintings and building dinosaurs from play dough. I’m so sorry that that’s not how it is. I know I shouldn’t feel guilty, but I do.
We still pay you frequent visits and bring your younger brother for a family picnic every now and then. He learnt to walk on the green grass next to where you lay – the part that overlooks the city. That was such a lovely day.
You need to know that we are much better parents because of you. You taught us true humility and compassion. You taught us about real strength and resilience. You gave us perspective – an ability to view the world in proportion. Being pregnant with you remains a fond memory, all those peanut butter milkshake cravings must have fed you well! And believe me, the depth of love and grief that combined as one at your birth has altered every single part of me. It was a painful time, but when I gaze at photographs of you, my heart bursts with pride. You look so much like your brother, and I like to think I can see something of you in him too. For such a shortly lived life, you had a huge impact on so many people.
Do not feel forgotten. Life has had to go on, and it certainly doesn’t always work out the way we plan. Even though you’re not here anymore, I still watch you in our garden, picking flowers and playing alongside your brother, and I’m sure in the years to come, you’ll be with us for many special moments.
Just remember I’ll always be your mum, and regardless of how busy or sidetracked I get, I notice you in everything. No matter what, you’ll always be my baby.