Monday, November 5, 2012

For My Babies

Today, Jackson is 17 months and 12 days old, as old as Hudson ever got to be. To mark this occasion, I wrote them this letter.

My dear, precious little ones—

Today is another sad milestone for all of us. Jackson, today you are as old as your sister ever got to be. Hudson, tomorrow, your little brother will be older than you. There are days when I can still barely comprehend that this ever happened, that this could possibly be true. How can it be that on this same night of your life, Hudson, we were forced to say goodbye to you so many decades too soon and go home from the hospital without you? And on this night of your life, Jackson, you are sleeping fitfully in the next room, running a fairly high fever yourself, something that has become all too common for you. Another awful irony in our lives.

The two of you are so very alike in so many ways. You are both so quick with a grin, with a hug, with a kiss. You both have your Daddy’s eyes and my hair (albeit in the form of a wispy baby mullet in the back and an old man’s receding hairline in the front). You both love to sing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and you both love our Bess-dog to death. Jackson, you were slower to talk than your big sister, but your vocabulary has grown incredibly quickly and is now bigger than Hudson’s. And Hudson, I can only imagine that somehow you inspired your little brother’s amazing thirst for learning—even though he never got to meet you, at least not here on this earth, I still believe that somehow he got this trait from you. How very much I wish you were here to actually teach him all these things. And Jackson, how very much I wish you had your big sister here to show you the ropes, to be your partner in crime, your greatest torturer and also your best friend. Often times, people, including your daddy and me, inadvertently call Jackson by Hudson’s name. And I smile and joke about how much more often this would have happened if you were both here in the house with us. Tonight, and many nights, I read a book to you, Jackson, that was inscribed to your sister at Christmas in 2008, a few weeks after she was born. How very much I wish she were here herself to read it with you, to point out the turtles and the trees and the moon to you. How very much the two of you deserve to have that. How very much I would have liked to see it.

I think I miss this relationship for the two of you now more than ever, as we make our way through the fall, through Halloween and later Thanksgiving and Christmas, through all those days where we take sibling photos and family photos, and more importantly, where we make memories together. Hudson, we miss you so much, but you are still so very much a part of our lives—you are part of our memories, even though you are no longer here to make new ones with us. Your little brother now points at your photos and, unbidden, says your name. When we ask him where his sister is, he points to pictures of you. We will do our best, forever, to help him know who you are, to help him know that you are always his big sister even as he grows older than you ever did. Thank you for the gift you gave all of us by helping us learn to truly cherish one another, perhaps in ways we never would have learned had we not lost you. Of course, we would have you back in a second if we could, and we would all go on loving each other the best way we knew how, but that is not our reality. And in this reality, part of keeping you alive in our hearts is being grateful to you for that gift and learning to use that gift to the fullest. Jackson, even though your big sister is not here with you, I hope that you always feel her presence in the most wonderful of ways, in the extra snuggles we are always so happy to give you, in the adventures we are always eagerly seeking out, in the wind on your face, in the many rituals we hope will become part of your life story, in the lingering moments where we take time to admire the stars, or a beautiful sunset, or a deer quietly grazing in the yard.

Hudson, my dear sweet baby girl, I am so very sorry that we are all going on without you. I don’t want to. And yet I also know that it is for your sake that we must.

I love you both so much, my sweet babies. You are so lucky to have one another, even if it’s in a different way than most brothers and sisters get to have each other. And I am so very lucky to be your mother.

All my love, dear ones,



  1. Mandy, I have been thinking of you often with this milestone approaching. It is such a strange one I think. This is beautiful for and about both your little ones.
    This line sticks with me: There are days when I can still barely comprehend that this ever happened, that this could possibly be true. i still feel this, still live this, and suspect I always will.

  2. Thinking of you often, but especially on the day of this difficult milestone.

  3. Lots of hugs, Mandy. You're in my thoughts all the time.

  4. Love and peace to you all.

  5. Thinking of you. Lots of love and hugs.


  6. Sometimes I just hate how the clock keeps ticking. Thank you for sharing this letter. I know I will feel similarly when the baby making himself at home in my belly grows and, hopefully, surpasses Eva's 10 months with us here on earth.

  7. Thanks for this remembrance and reflection, Mandy.

  8. Thinking of you so often and remembering Hudson. I never knew your little girl, yet, I will never forget about her, ever.

    Best, Jana

  9. Beautiful letter, as always. Thinking of you on this milestone day. Wishing things could be so different, but thankful for the love that always surrounds you, Ed, Jackson, and Hudson.

  10. Mandy, reading your writing is always inspiring. Please know that there are those of us out there quietly but intently looking up to you during this journey. As I gear up to be a mom myself, I can only hope I do it with a portion of the grace you have used in the past and continue to exhibit, even if the circumstances were not of your choosing. Hudson and Jackson are so very lucky to have you and Ed as parents.

  11. It's a strange place when your baby ages past a child who dies, isn't it? Our "baby" was 17 when her brother died at age 19. We have never talked about how she felt living past the age when Jason died...perhaps one day we was just too painful at the time. I'm so sorry for your loss.