A picture and a letter - Originally posted on March 16, 2011
|Jack's baby book|
I was out to breakfast with a dear friend a couple weeks ago. She asked me what was the most meaningful thing someone could do for another friend facing a crisis. She was referring to our time when Jack was in the NICU. I told her that out of everything, the simple act of a handwritten letter or even an email or text brightened our spirits immensely. There was nothing like coming back from the hospital, after a harrowing afternoon, to a stack of encouraging mail (some filled with beautiful mementos), letting us know how others were holding us up in their hearts and minds.
I saved each and every one of those letters and emails and they are now in Jack's baby scrapbook. I absolutely love having this heirloom. I can read through them and instantly feel the gratitude well up inside. Oftentimes, those letters carried us through. Our family, friends and even strangers cared about us and they used words on paper to relay that message. I have a foggy memory of the words spoken to us during that time. I vaguely remember the nice meals people brought us. I know those who came to visit and how they checked up on our home, mowed our lawn, and ran errands for us. And I am so thankful for all of that. But these letters will stay with us forever.
Late last spring, I was put into contact with an amazing momma who was going through that same horrible NICU experience. We started to email each other. I was trying to encourage her and let her know that she was not alone. She had a micro preemie son named Sage, that mirrored Jack in so many ways. He was the same gestation at birth and they were in the midst of making many of the same heart wrenching decisions as we had to just a year prior. Ultimately, her beautiful boy could not make it.
I was devastated when I heard the news. I had no words, but I wanted to send her something. I decided on a simple letter with a charm inside. A necklace that she could wear and the knowledge that our family, all the way in Montana, would never, ever forget her son's life.
She in turn sent me back a letter that forever has changed me. This letter is filled with the most inspiring advice from one momma to another. From a mother who has been through hell on earth. From one who has been in my shoes, but who's outcome was not the same. In this letter I'm told to never let a day go by where I don't remember what a miracle Jack's life is. To never, ever waste the opportunity to give a hug, kiss, or a smile to Jack. To hold him tight. That each week, day, minute, and second is precious.
She also sent a picture with that letter. It's now on our refrigerator. It's amazing how many people think it's a picture of me holding Jack.
|Sage Winter, May 2010|
A picture and a letter can be so powerful. I'm forever changed because of it. A different perspective. A grateful heart.