We were so excited to be pregnant with our second child, and our little boy, age 2, greeted my belly with a good morning, good night, and tales of the day. He tried to share with the baby by putting the spout of his milk cup to my navel.
Unfortunately, our second little boy was born at about one pound and never came home from the hospital, never met his big brother face to face.
We named our son Teach-Us-Love, after trying several conventional names, both English and Korean, because he brought our family even closer together, and gave us a new compassion for others and ourselves. I hope he can do the same for others, too. If so, his 45−minute life may have accomplished more than most of us do in our much longer allotments.
The overwhelming loss is somehow almost invisible to those who have not experienced it. I had no idea before, of the grief carried by so many, until we joined that “many”. We were fortunate to have very strong support from family and friends, support which did indeed teach us of the love which surrounds us. Our son’s name seems to have given us a kind of commitment to compassion, stronger than before.
Fortunately for us, the hospital gave us reading and resources to prepare for the loss we knew was coming, and we could help create good memories of that saddest day. For example, when he was born we were able to hold and talk and sing to him, and knowing how little time we would have, we somehow held off tears, not wanting to fill his little time in that way. Of course, the wail which accompanied his death came from somewhere so deep inside that I still feel its path through my heart.
Eight other babies were born in the ward that day, November 3, 1999, and for each one I held my breath until I heard the healthy cry, praying that no other mother should have to endure the loss of her little one. Somehow, though I felt pain, I could not feel any anger at their good fortune. I could not have borne it if anyone else’s grief was added to ours.
One of the best things a friend told me was that this little spirit must have searched long and hard for just the right family to share a precious 45 minutes of life with, and that he must have enjoyed our daily life when he was still yet to be born, with such an attentive big brother.
Now, almost three years later, we have a beautiful little girl. How many tears did we shed, when what should have been the joyful news of pregnancy arrived. We finally released the fear of losing her, too. I didn’t let go of her second brother until she was about a week old, and I could see how healthy she continued to be.
She allowed spring to bloom in our hearts after such a long winter. These two beautiful children, these loves of ours and how my heart always has a whisper of three when I speak of my little ones. He is forever in our hearts, yet forever out of reach of our arms. Thanks to God for all of them.
Children are so momentous. God Bless them, and give strength to us, their parents, that we may do our best by them.
Christabel resides with her family in Hayward. She wrote this article for Azriela Jaffe’s e−newsletter.