My dearest Jacob,
Mommy is sitting here tonight thinking about tomorrow's Walk to Remember. It will be our second Walk since losing you almost two years ago. Sometimes it seems like an entire year has passed since our first emotional and healing experience there, other times it seems like just a short while ago that I started the event full of tension and tears, but ended it with a much-welcomed sense of peace in my heart.
I have been looking forward to this event for months. Why? Because I need to feel close to you. And this event really helps me to do that. I know it sounds dumb to like an event as something to "help me" feel close to you, and I hope it doesn't sound like I can't feel close to you without doing something like this. But you know Mommy. Mommy is busy taking care of your big brothers and your daddy. It seems like Mommy is always doing something, huh? :) So when an event as special as this comes around....something that is solely focused on you and you alone...it is just the time I need to quiet everything else and let me just be your Mommy...and let my love for you spill out of me. You are my baby and you always will be my baby. I need to be your Mommy. That's who I am. I can't not be your Mommy. It doesn't matter if it's one day after losing you or almost two years. I will always be your Mommy and my love for you will never be turned off. It can't. It just isn't possible. And so I will always be close to you. And I will always cherish events like this where I get to focus on feeling close to you.
I look forward to this celebration of you sweetheart...tomorrow we and hundreds of more family members will remember all of our sweet babies and children who left us too soon. We will remember you. We will honor you. We will miss you. And we will celebrate our overwhelming love for each of you. And we will cry for you. The tears may start out heavy and weighted with sadness full of "whys" and "if onlys". But then hopefully our tears will lighten with joy, hope and love. I know that's my hope and I bet that's your hope for Mommy too. I remember how at peace I felt last year watching the last of the orange and black balloons dot the sky. It was as if my tears purged the anxiety I felt coming into this event--it was after all my first public and "official" good-bye to you in this manner. There was something that scared me about that "good-bye". It was so official. Up until then, we had not yet reached your anniversary so time was measured as if we had just lost you, rather than moving into the "one year later" and so on phase of loss and grief. And so I had no idea what to expect when I came to the Walk in 2011. I certainly did not expect to break down at each table in the parking lot while I was so tenderly greeted by HEAL Volunteers handing me name tags, balloon tags and butterflies--all on which to write your name.
Your name. Your sweet name. How I love to hear your name. How I love to see your name written! Jacob. Jacob Alexander. Your name sings to my heart...I try to hard to imagine what it would be like hearing your name said aloud on a daily basis as a part of our normal family routine--"Jacob needs his bath tonight," or perhaps, "What time is Jacob's doctor appointment tomorrow?" or perhaps, "Aw, look Jacob! Big Brothers, Sammy and Benny, are sharing their cuddly guys with you!"
But our daily family chatter does not include your sweet name in that way...and so I cherish whenever your name does come up. If Benny finds a giraffe somewhere and wants me to buy it for "Baby Jacob", I feel my heart smile inside. Sammy talks of you too, just not as often as he used to. At least not on his own initiative like when he was younger. He is growing up; Benny too, but Sammy is starting to find his way out of the sweet, sweet innocence of younger childhood. After all, he is a big first grader now, you know. :)
If not Benny, probably the other person uttering your name on as much of a regular basis as possible is Mommy. Me. :) I think of you so often, and say your name aloud whenever I can. Just today we were riding in the car on the way to the Spring Valley Potato Festival. The colors were so pretty! I can't believe fall just seemed to sneak up on us as quickly as it did! It was almost like overnight the colors started changing--bright golds, vibrant reds, warm oranges and soft greens. Daddy had said something about the beautiful scenery along the drive and I said, "I wish Jacob was here to see this. Although I'm sure what he is seeing is so much prettier than what we have."
Do you think that's silly when we say things like that? How could anything ever top the sights of Heaven? I know that you have the prettiest colors imaginable there in your sights all the time. You don't have to wait for seasons, they are there whenever you open your eyes. I guess we, I, say things like that because we miss you. Even though I know you are so happy and at peace right now, the selfish part of me as your Mommy wishes you were here in my arms. I wish I could show you the pretty leaves. I wish I could take you out on our upcoming fall photo shoot--the one I do every year for your brothers, and that I've done every year since they were babies. I'd take you out this year and plop you down on a blanket of oranges, yellows and reds. You would be almost 18 months old. Of course, I'd help make that blanket as pretty as I could by moving leaves if I had to for just the right background! :) But then I'd sit you in the pile and let you explore to your heart's content. I'd lay down on damp earth and take tons and tons of pictures of you from every angle. I'd look up at your sweet face and try to catch you smile with a red leaf in your hand and the bright blue sky overhead. And then later I'd send Grandma all of the bazillion pictures I took of you and she and I would gush over every single one of them.
This is the second fall we've gone through without you, my sweet baby. The second season where we remember losing you. I try not to associate the beauty of the fall with the pain of your loss because I know you wouldn't want that for me. I know you want Mommy to love every pretty leaf that falls. And I do. And so do your brothers. And so does your Daddy, especially now that we live in Ohio and get to experience fall all season long. I'm glad that what I've come to call, "Jacob's Month", is right when all of this beauty abounds. We go to festivals. We smell the fall scents dancing in air. We hug each other a little closer when the bitter air sends a chill down our necks. But through it all, you are there with us. Because this is your month. What better way to keep you included in everything we do and enjoy this month than to wrap all of these family events in between your events.
Take tomorrow's Walk. We went to a Potato Festival today. Your brothers picked out their pumpkins today. They are nice and big too! Perfect for Daddy to carve! And tomorrow, we will walk for you. Next week we will dance at Bob Evans' Farm Festival. And then the very next day, on the 15th, we will release a balloon and light a candle for you as a part of the National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. We will take your brothers to our church's Trunk or Treat the following weekend. And then we will have your special day...October 25th. See, baby? You are always on our minds and in our hearts, but this month especially we have so many days set aside to remember you and to love you. I think October has come to be one of my most favorite months for this reason.
Will you be watching us tomorrow Jacob? Will you look down from Heaven and see Mommy carrying your giraffe? The poor thing is getting beat up. His neck is getting floppy. I don't care. Since I can't carry you, I will carry your giraffe. He is my little guy to hug, especially at night whenever I miss you, when I cry sometimes and just want to see you and to hold you...when I miss you. I just wish I could see you, baby. Just once in a dream. It is my wish and always will be. Just once...to see you...
Will you see Mommy with your giraffe tomorrow? Will you see your brothers holding their balloons? Will you see Mommy and Daddy cry together like we did last year? I hope you see us but most importantly I hope you feel our love for you. I hope you feel it floating all the way up to Heaven on a gentle breeze that lands on your cheek like the softest of kisses.
Will you see our balloons soaring high into the sky? Your brothers are still young and sweet enough to think that balloons reach you in Heaven. Who am I to say they can't? Maybe they do in some beautiful way. Maybe they reach you as brightly-colored pockets of love that come drifting into Heaven's playgrounds. And you will stop playing with Grandpa just long enough to look up to see our love floating right into your arms. You reach up, grab it and it pops all over you. You giggle feeling the warmth of our love and joy at having you for our baby boy. Maybe a few of our tears that sneak a ride with the balloons will pop over your face like a gentle spring rain and you will turn your face upwards with a smile, soaking all of our love in. You know how very much we miss you. Maybe that's how it is and maybe that's how it will work tomorrow. Something as simple and as beautiful as that.
So tomorrow sweetie, I will go on my second Walk to Remember. I will cry. I will walk. I will hold on to my balloon until the very last second, not wanting to let it go...not wanting to let you go. I will remember you. I will love you. You are my baby and I am your Mommy. Always.
Mommy loves you, Jacob.