Over the weekend, I traveled out of town to visit my parents. My mom did some of her Christmas shopping and wanted to show me what she had gotten. She hand-picked items for each of her seven living grandchildren: warm beanies and silly toys for the boys, and some fluffy socks for the girls. And then she shopped for her eighth grandchild: the one she cannot hold. She lifted a tiny pair of Santa Claus pajamas from her bag. We both looked at them with sadness. We cried. These would be donated. Lincoln would never wear these pajamas. Every year, Christmas will come and he will not get to experience it.
When I was growing up, my parents didn’t have very much money. There were 6 of us to provide for. Some years we had piles of gifts. Most years, we had just a few. But we made memories. My mom took care to fill our holidays with meaningful traditions. Our house was full of laughter and joy. I’ve looked forward to including my children in these traditions. And I’ve looked forward to creating traditions of my own. I was ready to share these moments with Lincoln. But he will never sit on my lap, listening to his grandma read the story of Christmas. He will never blow out a birthday candle for Jesus. He will not race to yell, “Christmas Eve Gift!” before his cousins beat him to it. On Thanksgiving, he will never open up and say, “Aahhh” while his grandma sprays a messy pile of whipped cream into his mouth before dessert. He will not eat birthday breakfasts or carve pumpkins. I am now tasked with thinking of these traditions in a new way. Lincoln is my son, and will always be a part of special family moments. But these moments are now full of the nevers. They remind me of all of the other things that I will never get to share with my baby boy.
I do not get to watch my son grow up. I don’t get to introduce him to my favorite foods or teach him to play music. I don’t get to bake cookies with him. I don’t get to know what he would sound like when he laughs. I don’t get to hold his hand or kiss his boo-boos when he falls down. The moments I had with him while I was pregnant, and then while we were in the hospital, are all that I got. Lincoln will never get to grow up. But I find a small comfort in the fact that he will also never know pain. He will never know suffering. He will not be touched by the heartache of this world. He will never cry sorrowful tears. He will never know loss. He is free from the cruelty of this world; and I have to believe that one day, after I’ve made it through this life without him, we will be together again.