A letter to Jacob 

My buddy,

This year has been a tough one for you. It’s had change on the horizon from the start. You kissed my growing belly and talked to and loved on your brother, knowing he would be changing our family completely. You asked me countless times when you could meet him, when he would be done “cooking.”

You reminded me to “just breathe in and out” as I lay sprawled on our front stoop after falling. You brought me a pillow from your bed to make me comfortable while the firemen assessed me, and you told me to take it with me to the hospital. You kissed my toes that protruded from the cast. You picked me dandelions and brought them to me in bed. 

Each trip out of the house when I wasn’t walking was a chore, but you never minded. You would tell strangers that I was your mommy, and that I broke my ankle. Your world was so changed and you were never upset about it. You grew accustomed to my immobility. The afternoon that you fell in the hall and cried out for your daddy I thought I wouldn’t be able to breathe. I know–it was just that you knew I couldn’t run over there to comfort you. But it nearly broke me. 

When we told you that we had to send Koal to Heaven, you were confused.  

“But when will he come back?”

“He won’t, baby. No one comes back from Heaven.”

Your perfect little face scrunched angrily and you cried out in such pain that it broke my heart. It was confusing and hard to explain. Even a week later, you asked me when Jesus would be done fixing him. I didn’t want to tell you the truth, because I didn’t want to see that hurt look on your face, but I did. I learned that I’ll do the hard thing for you if it is the right thing, but I won’t like it. 

You excitedly met your baby brother, being wheeled up the hallway in his plastic isolette, hopping into the hospital room with your purple bracelet announcing that you were allowed to be there. You looked at the tiny baby in my arms, and there was no jealousy on your face. “Baby” you said softly, “this is your mama.” 

Each morning you come bounding into my bedroom, up before the sun, and hug and kiss me. You want to see your brother and you prefer that he have his eyes open. When he does, you will smile and coo at him until he smiles back. You tell him he’s a “little cherry on top” and call him your cutie. Sometimes you get carried away in the spirit of fun and the baby cries, but he will stop crying right away if he can see your face. His whole being lights up when he sees you; he already adores you. I am starting to see your embarrassment when you realize you’ve hurt him, and that the spirit of fun had gotten the better of you and overrun your system of self-control. I remember that feeling and so I hate it for you. 

You say prayers before bed, sometimes seriously and other times irreverently. The times that make me cry are the very many nights that you ask God to remind Koal that we love him, or remind God to feed him. You have the most gentle soul. 

Sometimes you are so grown up that I wonder what you need me for, other than to reach things (and even that you can usually overcome with a kitchen chair and a stool). Other times I see the way your face contorts when you cry, or the look in your eyes that I recognize as the look of one who has realized suddenly that he is very small in a very large world, and I remember just how young you are. You are independent and outgoing, but you still need me to kiss your boo-boos and put on your socks (which I know you can do, and I think you only ask me to do it to make me feel needed). It’s at these times that I remember how delicate your little heart is and how confusing the world is. I want to save you from it and introduce you to it simultaneously. 

Last week I had a frustrating day, and I apologized to you, saying that I didn’t feel like I was being a very nice mommy. 

“But I think you are the NICEST mommy!” You shouted, and it did wonders for my soul. 

You are my sweet boy, and every minute I have gotten to spend with you is an honor. I have so much to learn from you. You have expanded my heart and my mind. I love you.  


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