By Jennifer Roberts
My sweet boy,
I am sorry it took me so long to write to you. There’s so much I’ve wanted to say, but didn’t know where to start. How does a mommy write a letter to her baby that died? Mommies should never have to think about that at all. This is going to be full of words that are so different than what I would be saying to you if you were still here. I’m sure if you were here I wouldn’t feel the need to write you a letter at all, I would just tell you to your sweet little face how loved you are.
Next week you would be turning 20 months old. I can’t believe it’s been that long since I became your mom and since I last saw you. I could have told you already that I’m sorry my body failed you and you had to be born 8 weeks early, but most likely I wouldn’t even be worried about that anymore. I might have told you that I am sorry for complaining about the heartburn and hip pain while you were growing inside me, but possibly I wouldn’t even feel bad about it now.
Since things turned out the way they did and you are not here, I have felt the need to let you know that I am sorry that I complained. I am sorry my body didn’t do what it was supposed to. I am sorry you were robbed of your life so early and never got to come home. I am sorry I needed a C-Section and you never got to be held until you were gone. I’m sorry that all you ever felt was the NICU bed and needles and stuff stuck to your skin.
I still wake up around 3am almost every night and think about when I got to hold you at exactly 3:06am. Did you feel me put you in my hospital gown against my skin? I was hoping for a miracle. Your perfect little body was still warm and I thought I felt you move one last time. I didn’t know that we were allowed to hold you for as long as we wanted or else I would have kept you with me for longer. I thought they needed your body to start to figure out what made you so sick, so that’s why your dad and I only took a few hours with you. I live with the regret of not asking the NICU nurse how long we could have held you for.
I looked at your whole body and was in awe of you. You were a perfect and adorable little boy. You had my nose and your dad’s mouth. You had big feet like your dad, but my long skinny toes. You were always so strong while you were still growing. I remember one time I was interviewing someone you kicked me so hard that I forgot what I was saying. I loved feeling you move in there, it was the best part about being pregnant with you. I loved our morning routine of me singing 90’s songs and you kicking up a little storm in there every day on my drive to work. I hope you could feel how much I loved you from the very first time I heard your heartbeat.
Are you enjoying the view from the top of Mount Hood? Since you can’t be with us, I thought that would be the next best place for you. I am so thankful Uncle Gus was able to bring your ashes up there for us. One day Dad and I will be strong enough to come visit you at the top, but until then-we see you from here and you look strong and majestic.
I bet your smile would light up my world every day if you were here now. Even though it’s hard, I still try to find reasons to smile every day without you. I go in to your room pretty often and try to imagine it with you in there. I was so looking forward to getting to see the world through your eyes and appreciating everything as if it was the first time I’ve seen it all as well. I couldn’t wait to teach you silly songs and run and play with you. I was so excited to see you and our dog, Deebo, play together too. What I am missing the most is getting to see your dad bond with you. I bet you two would be best buds. I just know he would be the greatest dad ever.
Ben, I just want you to know that even though I have the rest of my life to get through without you, getting to be your mom even for such a short amount of time was worth it. I want you to know that I will never ever forget you and I will always fiercely love you. I have heard that there will come a time when everyone around me will expect me to be “over” you or will expect me to “move on” or not be sad anymore. I assure you that I will never be over you anymore than they would ever be over their living children. What I will do, is learn to live with the sadness of you not being here while I try to create a new normal for your dad and I.
I hope one day we will be able to make you a little brother or sister. You don’t mind if they use your crib and toys and books, do you? I will tell them all about you and be sure they know how proud you made me. You will always be a part of our family, Ben, because you changed us all for the better. Meeting you was the first time I ever knew what unconditional love felt like, and my love for you does not end just because you are not here.
I can be reminded of your feisty spirit and your sweet face by anything I choose though, whether it be the wind or a fluffy cloud. The mountain where your remains are, or a baby animal. Everything and nothing at all will spark a memory of you, my sweet boy. You live on in my heart and in my mind forever, so really… for as long as I live-so will you.
I love you forever Benjamin,
I am Jennifer Roberts, 39 years old, living in Portland, OR. I am a mother to a boy who is no longer living, but a mother, no less.