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I don't know the color of your eyes

Posted May 12 2009 6:16pm
I am following AMS's lead at Our Own Creation who got the idea from here and I am posting a view of loss. This is an open letter to our son, Ernest, who died shortly after birth due to a fatal birth defect.

I don't know the color of your eyes. I don't know if I never thought to ask or if I used to know and have forgotten. It seems to me that they were hazel. I never looked at them, but I think the information was supplied by the hospital staff where you were born.

The problem is that the information is in a remembrance box that I can't bare to open. Inside it is a lock of your hair; prints of your perfect little feet; a description - I think - of your eyes and, the hardest part, a picture of you with your mom and dad and they are looking so sad with lost expressions on their faces. They don't know how to deal with you lying in their arms and not breathing and not ever going to breathe. We tried to do the right things - to do the things we would hold dear in our memories later, but we were in shock. We had to get our minds into a non-emotional place to be able to get through your delivery and we didn't have time to let our emotions return.

I wish I had held you longer. I wish I had unwrapped the blanket from your little body and took all of you in, not just your head and face. I never even held your tiny hand. I saw it though. I saw the doctor as she held it up to demonstrate that you had little, if any, muscle. It was curled into a tiny, loose fist.

I remember now that I did see your body briefly just after you were born. You were as limp as a rag doll with no color to your cheeks. Then they swept you away and told us you wouldn't live and then wrapped you in the blanket we brought before giving you back to us.

And then I held you and kissed your face and gently stroked your cheek. I told you how sorry I was that I wasn't able to keep you safe. It was over too soon. I could have held on to you longer, but I didn't know what to do. I didn't think holding you longer would help. Maybe it wouldn't have. Maybe I am better off not having a clear picture of a body without enough muscle. Maybe it is better that I never saw your eyes because the only way to have seen them would have been a morbid action - somehow a violation of your perfect, sleeping form.

Someday I will open the box again. Someday I will find out if I am right about the color of your eyes or if I made it up. You were one of a kind, Ernest. You are the only baby who will ever be of the product of mine and your dad's genes. Maybe one day I will learn that I will never know the color of your eyes. Or maybe the box does contain a description of your eyes, but it won't be hazel like I remember. But for today, I will remember your eyes as being hazel. Today it feels good to think of your eyes as the same color as mine.
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