Archive | June, 2019

The Littlest

4 Jun

The four year old I wrote about a couple of years ago is a six year old now. He’s still with us; we’re still fostering him. In fact, his two older sisters are, as of last summer, with us also.

(Yeah, we’ve done the math. I promise, we didn’t plan for three. It just accidentally happened. Maybe more on that another time.)

I’ve mentioned our June 4 ritual in the past, pointing out that it doesn’t always go to plan. It’s the closest thing my wife and I have to an honest-to-goodness sacred moment in our calendar. We don’t miss it. If it’s a work day, we clear our schedules and take the day off. We mean business.

This morning, the six year old was curious, so we let him join in our candle lighting. He was puzzled: “Why is that candle so little?”

I told him, “I guess it is little. It’s appropriate, though, because this candle is for Oscar and he was the littlest.”


“Do you know who Oscar is?”


“Remember how we told you about our three baby boys? Today’s their birthday, so we light candles for them. That one is Rudyard’s candle and that one is for Desmond. It’s 8:40, so that means it’s time to light Oscar’s candle.”

“Look how little it is.”

“It is pretty little.”



“Did they die?”

“Yes they did.”


“Well, sometimes babies are born too early. When that happens, the babies have a hard time breathing and all sorts of problems. That’s what happened with these three.”

“I don’t have a candle.”

“No you don’t.”

I’m not dead.”

“No, you’re not and I’m very happy about that. For one thing, that means we get to celebrate your birthday in other ways that are more fun.”

He seemed satisfied with that.

Eight years into grief, the profundity of the insights begin to wane, alas, and I wish I had more to say than that this time, but I don’t. The red moments still come and when they do, they bite. I miss my boys. They should be here now, trashing our house, causing trouble.

And eight years in, the cards and texts and “We love you and we remember” calls still touch us. Thank you for sparing a thought for our three.