Thinking about my friend's beautiful, stillborn baby boy

I was in a hotel room when I learned my friend, Jaya’s, full-term baby had been born still. I had been in Boston for two weeks with my 11-month-old daughter, Isla, who was being treated as an outpatient at Shriners Burns Hospital after being badly scalded by hot tea. My world was faced entirely inward, focused only on the healing of my baby girl, and the nursing of my guilty heart, before I got that call.

Learning that Jaya and her husband Scott had suffered this unspeakable tragedy, that Jaya nearly died from a ruptured uterus, and that their living daughter, a friend to my daughter, had to be told that her little brother would never smile at her, knocked the self pity, and the air, right out of me.

Absorbing a loss that isn’t your own is a confusing experience. You feel pain, you feel sorrow, you ache deeply for your friends, yet you feel useless. For you know that nothing can console a mother and father who have had their newborn baby’s breath snatched away before their eyes could even meet, before their hands could touch and exchange warmth.

thinktraceoak2 433x650 Thinking about my friends beautiful, stillborn baby boy

The call came while I was opening a surprise care package– filled with consoling cards and sweet, homemade goods– from friends and neighbors back home. I learned later that that care package had been organized and sent by Jaya just days before her son died. It was her hands that had lovingly placed each item in that box as she patiently waited for her baby to arrive. Heavy with new life and dealing with pre-labor symptoms, she had still taken the time to think about, and help, a friend in need.

When we got back to town a week later, I was afraid, at first, to go visit Jaya and Scott. What could I say? What could I do? When I did finally go, I cried the moment I saw her. And the only thing I remember getting to come out of my mouth, other than “I’m sorry,” is “I don’t know how you can even stand up straight.”

What I meant by this pathetic uttering, was “The sheer weight of what’s happened to you makes me want to lie down on the floor. You are so brave. You amaze me. Life amazes me. Love amazes me. I can only imagine the hell you’re experiencing, yet still, somehow, I’m feeling it with you, and I’m so glad you are still here.”

Every time the leaves start to turn, and October approaches, I think of Scott and Jaya and remember their tragedy. And I’m well aware that their son, that little boy I never got to meet, would be turning 8 soon.

I’m also well aware that a loss like this is not something a mother and father get over. It’s something they learn how to carry, with grace. And I see them carrying this devastating loss with them, every day. And I am in awe.

Feature image from Thinkstock

Image 2: Thinkstock

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