Life and Death

On this day, October 21, six years ago, a child was born. He was small, no bigger than the palm of a small woman's hand, weighing slightly more than a few feathers. His entrance to the world was too soon, too abrupt, unexpected.

He fought to live.

On this day, October 21, four years ago, a different child died. He too was small for his almost five years, weighing no more than a few good sized rocks. His departure from this world was too soon, too abrupt, unexpected.

His fight for life was over.

I've written and rewritten this post over in my head from the moment I learned Jumby's birthday fell on Shalebug's death day early on in the adoption process.

Each time I stop, having run into a wall of emotion that is too tall to climb. So I pushed it out of my head, and out of my reality, telling myself I would deal with this mix of emotions tomorrow.

Tomorrow became today and there is no pushing it out of my mind.

There is a little boy, who for the first time in his life, has a forever family to celebrate his birthday with.

There is a little boy, who will no longer have birthdays to celebrate.

We were prepared for the emotional impact of bringing in a new life to our family. As a family we talked at length to each other, to ourselves what it would mean to love another little boy in the absence of another. We knew there would be nothing that could fill the void Bug's death created, no amount of love or time could fill the vacuum created with his absence.

Like the world around us, we knew we needed to move on, to continue, to live. We knew instinctively the only way to heal would to be to keep loving. Jumby has been the miracle medicine this family has so direly needed for so long. This is a family that is meant to share, to embrace and we knew that another child, another sibling was out there waiting for us to find and call our own.

The love he freely gives us with each laugh, each hug continues to soothe the raw edges of our wounds of grief.

But today, on the day of Jumby's birth and Shale's death, it is a cruel reminder of what we have all lost.

Perhaps it won't always be this difficult. Perhaps I'm being too hard on myself, holding myself to higher expectations than any mother can possibly maintain. But I don't know how to do this. I don't know how to wish one son a happy birthday while not remembering how his brother turned cold and blue in my arms.

It feels like a knife through our love. A betrayal to Shale for trying to find joy on the day he was ripped away from us. A betrayal to Jumby for not being able to wish him a happy birthday without wiping silent tears that streak down our cheeks.

My children are struggling with this. They don't know how to cope, how to comprehend, how to compartmentalize their pain alongside their love for their new brother. They look at me with wounded eyes and cry softly wondering if Shale will think they are abandoning him for a live sibling. They weep while wondering if they are betraying this new brother for feeling sadness on a day that should be laced with nothing but joy for the birth of their Jumby.

I'm struggling with this. Deep inside me I worry if Shale is aware of this, if he thinks I've forgotten him for my new son. I worry Jumby will question every cuddle I give him, wonder if I'm nuzzling the soft underside of his neck while wishing it was a different little boy in my arms.

It's complicated and absurd and the irony makes me cackle out loud like a crazy lady inside a padded room.

I can't change the past, I can't undo death, nor rearrange time to make birthdays unto their own, unmarred by the fog of loss. I can only wrap the love of my little boys around my heart and put one foot in front of the other while hoping desperately that the example I'm setting is not doing more harm than good.

Today, on October 21, I sit here and marvel how six years ago, my child was born and I never even knew it. A boy who should never have had the strength to live a day has somehow managed to live 2190 days and counting. My beautiful son with dimples so deep you can lose yourself in them.

Today, on October 21, six years ago, our family was given the greatest gift we have ever known, even if we didn't know it then. A fourth son, a brother who can't stand or speak or see yet somehow has the ability to allow us to soar to heights of love we had all forgot was even possible.

Today, on October 21, I sit here and remember how four years ago, I said goodbye to my boy and sang to him his last lullaby. A boy who lived longer than anyone thought possible but not nearly long enough for those who loved him. My beautiful son with his bright blue eyes and lashes that touched the sky.

Today, on October 21, four years ago, our family endured the greatest loss we have ever known, a pain we never knew existed. A son, a brother who couldn't talk, or eat or smile yet somehow had the ability to show us the meaning of unconditional love as he gave us enough love to last a life time.

I will light a candle for one son while I help another blow out his own as he makes a wish.

Today I will gather all my children around and hold them dear to my heart and know that no matter what the day is, whether a birthday or an anniversary, it is a day to celebrate the heart. No matter how fractured it is, the pieces will always expand to love another.

I love you both so very much, my beautiful boys.


Happy Birthday Jumby. We love you so very much.

(Identity concealed to appease the governmental gods while the adoption is finalized.)


We remember Bug. Always and forever we love you little man.