Dear Baby Gabriel,
You don’t know me, but I know your parents. Your mom taught my oldest boys in Sunday school; she patiently worked and served other people’s children while in silent agony over her own longing to become a mother. Your dad played in the band with my husband; he was always a good friend with his understated humor and quick wit. But you, dear heart, I don’t know, though I dearly wanted to. You had a hard go of it, fighting for life even from the womb. The unkindness of our cursed world preyed on you in the place where you should have been most safe. You are safe now, I know that, but I don’t know how to be unselfishly glad for your gain which is the loss of us all. We all prayed for you, longed for you. It seems that your work here is done and the impact you have made on this broken planet took much shorter then our own long lives take.
My life has, more than once, been touched by the cold and cruel hands of the death of a child. But, as near to death as my own little one came, he lived. God does that, and you know better than I why he allows some to stay here on this broken planet while others go home to perfection and paradise. I have felt the palpable pain of being told that my dear baby will die. But I don’t know what it is like to cross that threshold of a probability to a reality. Your mother and father know. They know the secret ache, the shattering pain of losing a child. They know the feeling that every parent with any love at all fears more than anything at all. They are living inside of my nightmare. Please, Gabriel, ask Jesus to dip his fingers into the pool of their pain and give them the strength to breath in and then out again, to press on when the ache is pressing into them. Please ask Jesus to speak his kind whispers to your big sisters as they struggle to understand why you can’t be with them.
Sweet baby, you have reminded me and many others to pray. I was awake most of last night, thinking about you. Praying, begging more like, that you would be a miracle baby. But what if the miracle that I prayed for was that, in your short life, you taught us all to pray? Was your miracle that your gallant soul touched our distracted, hurried lives and reminded us all of the frailty and of life? Gabriel, you reminded me to hug my children tightly, to smile into their eyes, to count every minute with them as a gift that I could never endeavor to deserve. Your miracle came as I expected that it would. But it came in a way I am so broken and, if I am honest, angry about. God will sort out my anger, He always does. But in the mean time; thank you, darling boy, for touching my foolish heart with the gift of a reminder. This new year, in your honor, I vow to live my life as if each person were more precious than all of time and space. I vow to love better.
I can barely type though the blur of fat tears crowding my eyes. I guess I will end this letter soon. I love you, angel baby, and I know you are in good company and in a bliss I can’t wrap my mind around. Say hello to all of the heart babies I have prayed and wept for this year.
P.S. Another thing, please ask Jesus to show us how to love your mommy and daddy best right now. Sometimes in the midst of pain, well-meaning friends and loved ones can be accidentally foolish with their words or actions. So show us how to behave and what to say or do to show your parents how much we love them, how proud we are of them for their brave fight and how much we all long to whisk their pain away. Thank you, dear heart.