March 19, 2008
Dearest Cara Grace,
Words cannot express the way I feel right now. Instead of attempting to describe it, I’m going to talk about you. What I saw, what I experienced, and what I’ll always remember.
You were born yesterday morning at 8:52 am. Your mom wrote me and told me your birth time and that you look like Tim. When I heard this, I was not surprised—I remember looking at you in the ultrasound and seeing how much you resembled your father.
So, after I heard of your arrival, I was faced with the question of “what to do.” Luckily, B’s mom gently prodded us to go to the hospital (as we were adamant to do something, but unsure that we were wanted there). I remember my sadness of the past hours being immediately replaced with nervousness—nervousness that your parents may not want us there, or even worse, may be angry that we came. The truth is, I was so desperate to see your mom and dad—to put my arms around them, cry with them, grieve with them. But in times like this, it’s hard to know what the “right” thing to do is (if there is even a right thing…).
When we arrived at the hospital, our plan was to let your mom and dad know we were there, and then attempt to see your extended family—to offer them condolences and show them that we cared about them, too, and were here to be helpful. We were surprised to discover that you were still with your parents, and that they invited us to come be with them. It worked out well that Cynthia’s family could watch Baby A and Baby O so we could go and be with your parents and meet you.
Meeting you was a precious, precious gift. I walked into the room, and faint sunlight filtered into the room through a large window. Bathed in a gentle glow, I saw your mom sitting on the bed—holding you—with your dad sitting in a chair at the foot of your bed. I walked straight over to your mom to put my arms around her (an act I had been longing for since I first heard of your passing), and the tears began to flow freely. After our embrace, I looked down at you.
You were wrapped in a soft, pink blanket and were wearing a hand-knit gown given to you by the hospital. Cara, you are absolutely beautiful. Your mom tenderly pulled back the blanket, proudly displaying your beautiful little fingers and toes. There were tears in her eyes, and she didn’t say much, but her pride and love for you were almost tangible—it was evident that this little person in her lap meant everything to her and that this moment was precious to her, as well.
Cara, you are perfect. You have a head full of dark, straight hair. It was clearly a trait you gained from your daddy. That, and your nose! I held you for quite some time. I spent time talking with your parents, and would look down at this baby in my lap and study you. Your face was reminiscent of both of your parents. Your daddy’s features were most obvious, but you reminded me of your mom, too.
Holding you in my arms, I could feel the space you took up. I could gauge how tiny you were, how light you were, how you fit perfectly into the crook of my arm. Even now, I miss that weight. That space feels empty. It’s strange, but even as I hold A, I’m aware that I have this space in my arms that only you can occupy. She’ll never fit there, and only you will. I can imagine that’s how your parents feel. That no matter how many other children they hold—even their own—there will always be this empty space in their arms that only you fit in.
I spent time studying your features, and cuddling you in my arms, I remember thinking “Sometimes it seems as if you are just sleeping.” But Cara, this wave of reality would hit me and I’d realize there was no breath leaving your body, and my heart would hurt.
I’ll always remember the time I had with you. I have told your mom this--it is among my most precious memories. I have written down my memories of that time, but I feel that was an unnecessary action—I’ll remember anyway.
Cara Grace, I’m distraught over losing you. I remember the first moment I knew of your existence. My excitement was uncontained, and throughout your mom’s pregnancy, I would delight in hearing about you. I cherished the images of your acrobatics in utero (as seen in your ultrasound). I relished the times I saw you move in your mommy’s tummy. I was so, so excited to meet you.
Just last week, I was telling your mom how I couldn’t wait until they brought you home, and how a baby changes the feeling in a home. I had so many expectations of getting to hold you, play with you, even babysit you. Those dreams have been stolen from me.
Looking at you in the hospital, I realized how generous your parents were to recognize that we were grieving, too. Your parents are incredible people… While their own grief is unimaginable to me, they gave us the chance to share it with them, to add our own to their burdens.
Cara, I love you. You aren’t my child, but I love you anyway. I’ll miss you forever. You presence has changed me forever. Your life has touched so many, and has rendered your parents different people. It boggles the mind how one little baby can affect so much.
Although I won’t get to see you grow up, to see you change, to see you live, I got to meet you. I got to hold you, to touch you, to study you. I feel blessed to have known you for 9 months. I feel blessed to have been a part of such a profoundly moving experience—to have been part of your story.
I look forward to sharing you with others—particularly, with A and my other children. I want them to know about you, to know the story of how you changed so many lives.
I’ll do my best to reassure your parents of your importance to me, to my family. I’ll show them how you affected me, how I miss you, and how I remember you. You have taught me the importance of thankfulness. You have revived in me gratitude, brokenness, and a sorrow that brings me closer to God and my own family.
Thank you for these gifts. I celebrate your life and will commemorate your death. Thank you, Cara. Your parents named you well: you are loved, and are full of grace. And you have revealed those things to those of us who love and miss you…