My living son is two years old. It’s a little difficult to know how much he understands about death. Though he’s never met him, he’s talked to Lincoln’s picture since he was a tiny baby. Losing Liam was a bit different, but I’m not sure exactly what he’s thinking. I’m always trying to figure out how he’s processing things so I can support him.
Jonah came to the hospital when we found out that Liam would not be able to recover from complications caused by RSV. He was very nervous and kept his distance for a while. Liam didn’t look like himself at that point. He was very swollen and purple from various fluids and treatments. When he finally approached his baby brother, he was very gentle but hesitant. He softly spoke about his brother being sick. He sat and held him briefly, but didn’t want to linger there. I told him his baby brother couldn’t come home. He wandered off, but eventually came back on his own to give Liam a kiss on the head and to say goodbye.
Since we’ve been home, Jonah hasn’t asked for Liam, but still mentions him very casually. It didn’t take us long to decide to donate Liam’s baby items to a family in need. While gathering things, Jonah was a little defensive about a couple of items, like bottles, the carseat, and the baby bed: the ways they interacted most often. Those items are now out of the house, and he’s mostly been my same sweet Jonah. But the other day when I dropped him off at school, I followed him into his classroom. He walked over to a baby boy in his crib. He reached through the slats to hold the baby’s hand, looked up at me, and started crying. I found out later that he spent the day being that baby’s protector. He patted his back, shushed him when he cried, and helped put his food on his high chair tray. He’s had more days like this since then. I know he’s missing his little brother. And I know he’s missing being a big brother to him. I wish there was something I could do for him along with giving him all of my love. But for now, I’ll write him this letter:
Dear Big Brother,
I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry your baby brother was taken from you. I’m sorry you no longer have someone to care for and tend to. You are the best big brother I have ever seen. Your love for your baby Liam brought your mommy and daddy so much joy. Your tender touch and soft voice made our hearts swell with pride.
I know this must be so confusing. Your brother was here with you for six weeks. You got to feed him and soothe him. You ran to his bed and told him everything would be okay. And he listened to you, my love. He calmed at the sound of your voice. He gazed into your eyes. He soaked in your love. Your baby brother loved you so much. I know you were already his very best friend.
My sweet son, I’m so sorry I couldn’t save Liam. I’m so sorry he couldn’t come home with us. I wish I could take away this sadness. I wish I could help fill the emptiness you are experiencing since we lost your little brother. I wish I could protect you from this, almost as much as I wish I could’ve saved him.
Little boy, you make me so proud to be your mommy. You bring such light to everyone around you. You are so pure and tender. I know it’s so hard not to have a place for your love to go. I know you search for it when you see the babies at school. I know you keep trying to love and to protect. You have the biggest heart. And I’m so sorry it will always be missing two pieces.
I love you so much, sweet boy. I will do everything I can to help you through this.