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Location: Middle of Nowhere, Northern Ontario, Canada

Wednesday, December 7

What might have been

My grandson would have been seven this year. His name was James Jacob and he wasn't in this world for long (less than an hour) but he changed my life. He was an anencephalic baby.

I remember the day my son called me (yes, over the phone) and told me I was going to be a grandmother at the age of 38. I wasn't the least bit happy. He was 19, unmarried (not that I wanted him to be married) and he was living with his girlfriend in her parent's basement. I remember being so sad at the thought of him having to go through the same challenges that his Dad and I went through when I found myself pregnant and unmarried at age 17. My hopes and dreams for my little boy's future were shattered in that moment.

And as the days went by I was overcome by guilt from my new understanding of what I had put my parents through all those years ago. I had always felt guilty but knowing how sad I must have made my parents added to it. One night, during one of my many teary phone calls to my Mom, we discussed, for the first time, those weeks after I came home and told my parents I was pregnant. She told me that she was proud of me and how Dave and I had done so well for ourselves given our shaky start in our married life and that I should never feel guilty. I thank JJ for that. It was an enormous weight lifted from my shoulders.

Plans were made and slowly I began to warm to the idea of having a grandchild. My friends started calling me Nana or Granny, just to get me used to it they said. *grin* Dave and I started thinking about taking the little guy (because for some reason we always thought of the baby as a boy) camping and fishing with us and slowly we started to get a little bit excited about our future grandson. We were concerned though because we didn't see our son and his girlfriend's relationship lasting and we began to worry about having a grandchild whose life we might not be able to be a part of.

In mid-November we got another phone call. This one made me very sad too but for a different reason. During her ultrasound they discovered that JJ was anencephalic which meant that his brain/skull would not form correctly and he would not survive outside of the womb. Arrangements were made for JJ to be born at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto and on December 7th we, along with her parents, were by their side as their tiny little son, my Grandson, was born and died. He was so tiny, less than a pound.

I still remember that day like it was yesterday. After a short service at the hospital we went back to the hotel to make phone calls. A Leahy special was on tv. I cried and talked with my Mom for about an hour. Dave and I went to the Hard Rock Cafe for supper and a couple drinks (per my Mom's instructions to get out of the room for a while) and we watched "Something About Mary". It was a surreal day.

I think of JJ every time I drive by the cemetary where he is buried. And every December. And when I see my friends who teased me about being a Grandma at 38 with their grandchildren. And many other times. I wonder who he would have looked like; what kind of personality he would have had; what might have been.

Nana loves you JJ.


Can somebody pass me a Kleenex?

This is one of those times that I almost wish I had a private blog. Not that I didn't want to share this story, just that I hate to make people sad. As today approached I couldn't stop thinking that finally I had a place where I could write about JJ. I hope I haven't stirred up sad memories for anyone. I am still debating about pushing the publish button.

My son and his girlfriend didn't stay together for long. By spring they had parted ways. They are still friendly when they see each other and she called me a few months ago to get my address to return some of my son's baby pictures she had borrowed.


Blogger arkie said...

This is a beautiful story, and I'm glad you shared it. {HUGS}

Wed. Dec. 07, 01:32:00 p.m. EST  
Blogger ~Nutz said...

Don't ever feel you can't share JJ with us. I'm glad you did.

*hands Lightsy a tissue*

...and gives her a big {{{hug}}}

Wed. Dec. 07, 01:41:00 p.m. EST  
Blogger Sonya said...

That is a wonderful story. Sharing may help.

*wipes tear from check*

Wed. Dec. 07, 02:04:00 p.m. EST  
Blogger MTW said...


The thing about sharing these painful stories is they're necessary to provide context to the good times.

Besides, what kind of friends would we be if you couldn't tell us the difficult stuff.

Next time, you could include some smut at the end, though! ;-) *oh wait, wrong blog*

Seriously, thanks for tellin us about JJ.

Wed. Dec. 07, 02:15:00 p.m. EST  
Blogger lights said...

Thanks for the hugs and for reading JJ's story. I have thought about writing this all down every year around this time and today just seemed to be the right day.

*snort* Smut at the end! I'll try to fit that in next time. *grin*

Wed. Dec. 07, 02:52:00 p.m. EST  
Blogger Breezy said...

Beautiful story Lightsy. *big hug*

Wed. Dec. 07, 03:10:00 p.m. EST  
Blogger Bravie said...

*smooch* A very touching story. *hugs*

Wed. Dec. 07, 04:58:00 p.m. EST  
Blogger mm said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your story though, that's why we are all here.


Wed. Dec. 07, 07:06:00 p.m. EST  
Blogger Swami said...

Big hugs for my lightsie! Sometimes the stories that are hardest to tell are the ones most worth telling. Thank you for sharing JJ with us.

Wed. Dec. 07, 09:52:00 p.m. EST  
Blogger Schnookie said...

Awwwwwwwwww sweetie *BIG HUGS* Thank you so much for sharing your story of JJ with us. Beautifully written.

Thu. Dec. 08, 10:45:00 a.m. EST  
Blogger Puffy said...

What a wonderful tribute. I'm glad you shared. We all have an encyclopedia's worth of stories inside of us. And how nice that JJ is still alive in your heart and memory.

Sun. Dec. 11, 06:43:00 p.m. EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

*big hugs* to you my dear.

I have no words.

Mon. Dec. 12, 03:08:00 p.m. EST  
Blogger Syren said...

I am so glad you shared this.

Sometimes the littlest ones are our biggest heros.


Wed. Dec. 14, 10:43:00 a.m. EST  
Blogger BlindSlim~CSTL said...

{{ hugs }} That was a beautiful even though tragic story. It was blessing that even for the extremely short amount of time he was alive, he brought so much happiness to everyone.


Wed. Dec. 14, 10:52:00 a.m. EST  

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