“Mommy, how old is my brother?” I stared into the eyes of my little boy and realized, quite startled, that he had not asked the question in the past tense. I was taken aback. I fumbled for words for a minute. He waited patiently thinking I was just computing it in my head. Really what happened was that I had honestly forgotten. It was the first time I had ever let an April go by without thinking of it, and it had slipped right by me and now we were into June. And I also realized that it wasn’t something that was just mine alone. It was his too.
“He would have had a 4th birthday in April, about the same age as your cousin is.” Instantly my eyes moved to a framed picture of my three kids with their faces all smooshed together in our front yard, laying on a blanket. It was the one where the new baby should have been sitting up and one of the girls protectively placing an arm around it as we got the “first” fall picture of him in the leaves. It used to be hard for me to look at that picture. Now it sits over my sink because – well – life moves on.
Drake – now 7, turning 8 – moved off with his new information. I have no idea why he wanted to know, but he does that sometimes. He will ask a question and take it in and move on. But he always seems to process things in the present, not past… And yeah, just because this happened in the past does not make his brother a past event – he’s still his brother, just a brother unmet.
One day he asked why the baby never was born. That was a hard one. I am lucky enough to have been blessed to know the “why” of it. An odd thing happened during the birth of Drake and the healing after. We never knew anything ever happened, but long story short – if I had had this last baby, I would have hemorrhaged and bled to death and died before anyone would have known what happened. They found all this out years after it happened, while fixing other issues surgically. But I never could have carried another baby safely. God protected me by taking our son.
For one small moment, when the doctor told me that info, I felt the hand of God upon me and it was heavy and warm. It took a long time to realize what a blessing it was, and not just a painful realization of a baby lost. When I finally put all the pieces together, it was the first time I didnt feel like a failure as a mom. If God wanted me to stay and be a mom to these three kids that I DID have, then He must think I am doing a good enough job. I always felt like I was failing them. But here God said to me, “I will take this baby so you can stay and raise these 3 babies for Me.” It was life changing.
So every time I think of our baby who never smiles in our family photos, who doesn’t run up and down the hallway, who isn’t clamoring for a turn on the Wii or computer, I try real hard to say thank you to God for that blessing, and I ask him to give our little guy a hug for me.
And yeah, as we gear up for a big 8 year old birthday party for his brother, I DO remember the little guy who I’ve missed these last few years. Give him an extra hug for me tonight, God. Let him know that I will aways be a mom of 4 at heart, even if only 3 of them are in the pictures I so proudly display.
And tell him I love him.