I wrote this letter to Luke a month and three days before he was born. Thirty-five months ago, today, his brother was born. So much different; so much the same.
Sweet Little Luke,
It’s important you know how Mommy was feeling today. I know that you will grow up in a slightly different way than many others, though you should also know that all of us pretty much do! You, however, will grow up with a big brother you never knew and it’s my job to make sure you know as much about him and his place in our family as you can.
I cleaned out your brother’s room today. I know it will be your room also, but it was and always will be Matthew’s first. This is not written to be disrespectful to you; it’s simply the way it is. I don’t think anyone finds it ok to say, “Well, mom’s dead so the next mom can have all her stuff.” Therefore, I don’t find it ok to think that because your brother is dead, we need to pretend that room has always been meant for you, or things bought for him were somehow ‘meant’ to be bought for you because he died and you lived. Acknowledging that it was Matthew’s nursery and Matthew’s things I cleaned out is just acknowledging life. More specifically, his life, and I won’t ever, ever, ever act as if everything said, done, felt or bought for Matthew wasn’t and isn’t real and true. The length of life lived does not determine one’s standing in the family, nor is it interchangeable or replaceable.
But that doesn’t mean that it will not be any less yours. Several things are in the works for you. Our sweet friend Miss Amy is making your nursery set. It’s really adorable, an Under the Sea theme, and your daddy and I love it. I’ve also ordered some sweet decals for your walls, and Miss Stephanie is making you some awesome art with your name to match your room. You’ve received several kind and thoughtful gifts, and mommy has been buying things for you since the day we found out you were part of our lives. I’ve been meaning and meaning to take pictures of things you’ve been given and that I’ve bought for you and I was able to today after I took Matthew’s things down and out of the room. There are a lot of pictures, obviously, but I want you to always know that you’ve been very loved and very hoped for before you even existed. I never want you to doubt that.
Though hard, I can’t say that cleaning the room out was the hardest thing I’ve had to do. I can’t even say it’s at the top of the list. I’ve had to hear your daddy say, “He’s not breathing, Lori. They’re doing CPR,” and “Lori, I’m so sorry. He’s gone. I’m so sorry.” I’ve had to hear the NICU doctor tell me, “Your son is a very, very sick little boy and we’re going to try to do what we can to save him,” as she looked at me knowing that I’d never see him again. I’ve had to decide what songs to play at my son’s funeral…pick out what he’d wear in his coffin. I’ve had smile even though my world was shattered. I bring flowers to a grave that marks where your brother’s body is.
Cleaning out the nursery was hard, but sadly, just one more in the list of things that breaks my heart. I’m getting to the point where I think I’m just numb to them. I didn’t cry for the most part…but when I came across Matthew’s First Thanksgiving outfit, I did. When I cleaned out his diaper bag, I did. When I read what your daddy wrote to him in the book he bought for him, I did. When I took his curtains down, I did. When I took all his first Christmas outfits out of the room, I did.
I guess I cried more than I thought.
I took a ton of pictures before and took video. One of my fears is that I won’t be able to remember. I can’t remember where my keys are most days…I can only imagine how time will chip away my memories of all the happy preparations that were made in anticipation of Matthew. I don’t want to lose any of that.
So, his room is now ready for you, his little brother. I anticipate it will be decorated in the next few weeks, and most everything that we’ll need to use with you for the first several weeks is waiting to be used. It’s been waiting for nearly a year to be used, and unlike me, holds no attachment for whom it was meant to be used. I can say that as time has passed, I am able to lose some of the attachment as well. After Matthew died, I couldn’t dream of using just about anything of his for any one else, much less another child. When your only child dies, the only things he gets to ‘keep’ are those you make sure are only his—clothes, toys, ornaments, shower venues, certain books…different things. I’ve been able to get to the point where some things I can now contemplate sharing with you. Not because I probably would have passed them on to you anyway (I HATE THAT ARGUMENT!), but because I know that they are just clothes. Some clothes are special for Matthew only, and had he lived, would have been that way regardless. But most clothes do not hold the memories they would had he lived and worn them, and I can see them for what they are—clothes with maybe a vague memory of me buying them.
And now your things will go in and wait for you. It’s hard to believe that won’t be very long now. I have to admit that as I was getting things I’ve bought you ready to wash, I found it hard to believe I’d actually bring you home. There’s no medical reason for me to believe that, it’s just very surreal still. In any event, know you are loved and cherished and we cannot wait to meet you!
All my love,
All my love,