Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I asked my husband to write a post recently and below is what he sent. I love him more than words...


Once upon a time I had beautiful, tiny, brave and brown haired daughter.  The daughter who died, six days after she was born, while I was helpless to save her.  My daughter was born too early and too little, with impossibly tiny fingers and toes and still covered in downy body hair.  She had so many tubes, needles, and sensors attached to her that it was difficult to find a place on her body to touch.  All of these things made her visibly uncomfortable and she would sometimes tear at them and silently cry; her face all wrinkled and red.  It was absolute torture that I could not pick her up and comfort her, especially considering that in my mind, protecting my children is the truest definition of a father.  Eventually my wife and I found we could sooth her by stroking her hand and singing to her.  When she heard our voices we could see, in the many monitors, her heart rate rise in response and she would grab our fingers and kick her legs.  I remember with both joy and sadness the feeling of her little hand grasping my finger, of her little silent cries and furrowed brow, how we could ease those cries by singing.

Six days.  That is all the time I had with her.  I should have spent every moment at her side.  Instead I remember spending endless torturous moments looking for parking spaces, running errands, paying bills, all in the hope that we could all travel to Washington D.C. where she could get the best care available.

If I knew then, what I know now, I would have spent every moment at her side singing to ease her pain. I would have sung her a song of the endless love of fathers for daughters; a song about the joyful electricity in holding her small perfect hand; a song about her beautiful and passionate mommy who loves her with fierceness and longing.  I would have sung a song about her wild and uninhibited brother running fearless and covered in bruises; a song about her diverse and incredible grandparents; a song of her honorable and occasionally roguish ancestors.  I would sing a song of autumn leaves and spring rains, of rich dirt and deep water and a planet teeming with endless variations of life.  I would have sung a  song of the scents of ginger, roses, wet dogs and freshly cut grass. I would sing a song of fairy tales and myths, legends and secrets. I would sing a song of black birds, busy ants, flitting butterflies, lovely flowers, quick lizards, and crafty squirrels. A song of boo boos kissed and tears dried.  I would sing a story about a little girl standing on her daddy’s feet to learn the two-step; I would sing a story about Girl Scout cookies and Sunday dinners and eating pizza on the floor while watching movies on Friday nights.  I would sing a song of walking my beloved girl down an aisle to a groom. I would sing a song about her and me unending, while my voice became hoarse, while my hair and nails grew long, my ribs become pronounced and my eyes became blind.  I would sing a song of love so deep and so eternal that the gulfs would open beneath us and fire would light the sky.   I would sing our song until they drug me away.  If my song could have eased a single second of her pain I would have sung until the walls around us crumbled and the world fell apart.  Instead, she died and I could not sing to her, and the walls really did crumble and the world really did fall apart. 

So now our lives go on, but I sing to you silently.  Whenever I see something that moves me, or whenever your brother (and future sister) experiences something new, or whenever I feel loved, or whenever I miss you, I add to the silent song.


  1. "How shall we sing our love's song now
    In this strange land where all are born to die?
    Each tree and leaf and star show how
    The universe is part of this one cry
    That every life is noted and is cherished
    And nothing loved is ever lost or perished."
    -Madeleine L'Engle

    It has been my experience that those we love and lose live in our hearts and elucidate our lives with what is truly precious - those moments we spend together and how we spend them. Small consolation, perhaps, for their loss, but perhaps the truest expression of immortality: how we touch and change, even in such a short time, those we leave behind. Your Ellie touched me too, even in such a short time, changed my heart a little more towards what is truly precious. Because of Ellie, and because of your love for her, I am a better person.
    I continue to be so sorry for the loss of your precious girl, Eleanor
    All my love, Shondra Jin

  2. beautiful post from a daddy about his first born daughter ~ sweet Ellie <3

  3. This breaks my heart--it is so beautiful.

    On 11/18 my little one would have been nine. As a tribute to him and other babies who have passed away, I'm hosting a blogfest for mothers who have lost infants or children. I would love it if you could join us and share your story.

    Here's that link if you're interested:

  4. My heart is full and tears are in my eyes as I read your beautiful song of what might have been. You and Sarah have carried Eleanor's legacy for her, for yourselves and for all of us who love her. I love you both, and my love of Eleanor only grows with each year and each memory of my sweet granddaughter. You are the son whose magnificence I could never have imagined.