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.


3 Responses to “The Littlest”

  1. Sharon Bear June 5, 2019 at 12:22 pm #

    Littlest – what hit me sooo hard was in the infinitesimally small urns. I was looking around for 3 big-sized urns and when you said there they are, pointing to these tiny teacup sized jars on the mantel a shock went through me. Yes. They were the tiniest little bodies I’d ever mourned. But very real little people. So small yet so powerful in the message they have carried ever since to the world of parents hurting from loss. Their birthday is a celebration of their being and time here.

  2. Cindy M Weeks June 5, 2019 at 4:37 pm #

    Thank you for sharing your story and your journey. I think of you and Carrie on this day every year.

  3. Penn December 27, 2019 at 3:03 pm #

    I first read your blog during the pregnancy with the boys, and was absolutely heartbroken when the boys passed. I just happened to check in today randomly. I’m not sure I’ve ever commented here, but I want you to know that I’ve never forgotten Rudyard, Desmond, and Oscar. People all over the world remember them, and they’ll never be forgotten. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: