Remembering My Baby
“My baby died.”
I bite my lip. This isn’t the place, I remind myself. This is a stranger. This is a casual conversation. They don’t need to know. It’s beside the point.
But I can’t stop thinking about it.
The words bubble up inside me, a relentless tide. I’m looking at you, smiling at you, making small talk, and I can’t even really hear what you’re saying because all I hear reverberating in every vein of my body is my baby died, my baby died, my baby died.
It’s been a year and a half since my fourth child was born without a heartbeat. The world, astoundingly, continues to spin. In that time, I’ve given birth to another living child. I’ve gone out with friends, hosted meals, made jokes, complained about carpool.
And I can’t stop thinking: my baby died.
I can imagine the confusion of the people around me. She’s so one-note these days. It’s been more than a year! She never even knew that baby. It’s an obsession. It was terrible when it happened, but when will she let it go? Why can’t she stop talking about it?
The terrible truth is that all I have left of my baby is her memory. And because it is a memory I alone possess, I feel like she is fading from the world with every passing minute.
She never really occupied a space, either physical or mental, in the lives of anyone but my family. No one saw her face but my husband and I: her beautiful, heart-shaped face, her curling hair, her rosebud lips. No one else held her tiny hand or kissed the top of her still-warm head.
She was born a ghost.
And as the months roll on, even the shock of her sudden death wears away. New catastrophes occupy our minds, and new simchas, too. New babies are born every day, including ours- another little girl, our third daughter- though who will remember how many daughters we really have except me? I meet new people who have no idea that there should be a toddler holding on to my stroller. I run into old acquaintances who coo over my newest, youngest daughter and don’t mention the silent little girl buried in an unmarked grave.
I think that is why I find myself saying it over and over again, like the tale of the Exodus. My baby died, my baby died, my baby died.
I am terrified that time will erase her existence.
It feels like she has left no mark—like the further history marches from the day of her birth and death, the less evidence remains that her soul touched this world at all. All the gaping holes her death tore in the fabric of my universe are being quietly closed over, smoothed out, as if she never was.
No one else wonders what she would look like now. How many words she’d say. What her favorite foods would be. How her laughter might sound.
No one else watches my kids playing in the backyard and imagines my 7-year-old pushing a beaming toddler in a wagon or sees my younger son racing her down the sidewalk.
The babies that were born her summer aren’t babies anymore. They’re kids. Their personalities are evolving; they’re making memories, marking new firsts every day. And my sweet baby slips further and further into the whispered past, out of mind, out of reach.
That’s why I need you to know about her. That’s why I need to talk about her.
To remember her.
As her mother, the only thing I can still do for her is bear witness to her short life, to carry the torch of her memory like a flame. To share my love for her, to tell her story.
Remember my baby.
Remember my little girl, so that I can remember her, too.