I’ve been feeling much better since I wrote to you. I needed to share my heart with you. It struck me that even though you died more than a year ago, I still worry about you. I still wonder how you’re doing and think about your feelings and what you need. I still desperately want to mother you.

I always wanted to be the mom who enjoyed my kids and didn’t worry all the time. Circumstances have certainly challenged that goal. But I still want that. Perhaps I need to stop worrying about you now. I need to give myself permission to stop worrying about whether it’s our fault you died. I need to stop worrying that I did something terribly wrong and everyone knows and is just too kind or scared to tell me to my face. I need to stop worrying that I don’t love you enough when I acknowledge how much easier it’s going to be to raise a child who doesn’t have the terrible disease you had.

I miss you and it hurts to think of what you would be like now. I need to stop torturing myself with those questions. Of course you would still be our beautiful boy and you’d be challenging at times and delightful at other times like every other two year old.  But you’re not here and you’re not two and I should stop imagining what never was or ever will be.

I need to stop worrying about you and just allow myself to enjoy you. I still love you and you still love me. I have many beautiful memories of the precious time we had together. We could have so easily lost you when you were just days old. What a gift to have nearly 17 months of memories.

Now we can make new memories with your baby brother. It’s okay. It’s good and right and I don’t need to worry. It’s not perfect; nothing ever is and that’s okay. It’s all an incredible gift despite the suffering and I want to enjoy it.

Dear Brody

No one will ever replace you. You have a new, baby brother. He seems to be doing very well. I’m still scared sometimes. I still feel so vulnerable. And I still think about you and how you should have come home like he did. I was overwhelmed with happiness when you were born. I wish that could have lasted. I wish I could have enjoyed you in good health.

But I need to stop wishing for things to be different. I do. I need to let go of how I think life should have gone. It feels like a betrayal. I owe it to you to wish you were here for the rest of my life, don’t I? How could I possibly not wish for that? How can I stop wishing for a different story?

I’ve been watching TED Talks on the science of happiness and reading books like The Happiness Advantage and they all tell me that happiness requires making peace with your choices and accepting the things you can’t control as they are. Losing you makes that really hard.

But I have this new little human now. And I still have Bryson. And I think each of my boys, including you, wants me to be happy. Right? I feel like I need your permission. I feel like I owe you an apology for having another son and trying to move on. I’m sorry. Please know I’m not trying to forget you. I’m just trying to figure out how to keep loving you and love this new baby. Logically, this shouldn’t be difficult; I have plenty of love in my heart for both of you. But, I feel this barrier still, this fear.

We moved your urn downstairs last week. It stung. Oh kid, why did you have to end up in an urn? You are my beautiful boy. It just got to be too much to have it in our room and walk past it repeatedly everyday. We’d rather look at pictures of your smile. So we put up these teak shelves that used to belong to my grandpa and we made a Brody wall in the hall downstairs. When it was done, we all stood and looked at it together and cried. I held Jayce and looked at your happy face and cried.

We lost you and we gained this new little boy and it feels like an unsolvable riddle, like a maze I’m lost in with no solution. What was the purpose of that? Why not just keep you? And I have to make peace with not knowing. I cannot wish for it to be different. It’s not going to be different.

You are gone now and he is here and my assignment is to accept that. I want to stubbornly insist that I will not accept this, but my protest accomplishes nothing. My surrender, however, might just bring me peace. It is what it is and I have to let it be.  That doesn’t mean I don’t love you anymore. It doesn’t make me a quitter or a bad mom. It doesn’t mean I’m choosing Jayce over you.

And I really think that’s what is making this transition so painful. It’s like I’m cheating on you or betraying you in some way. You left me and I’ve gone and started a new life without you. Is that okay? Is that what this is? Ah kiddo. I don’t even know. It shouldn’t feel like such a mess, but it does.  Let’s make a way here. There is a way to peace. I have hope.