Goodnight Moon

May 23, 2016
Goodnight Moon
Photo credit: Melissa Russell

We have always made an effort to include Aiden’s memory in our daily lives. We want our two children who were born after Aiden to know him and feel connected to their big brother. We speak of him often and find ways to include him in our daily lives and important events.

It brings me peace to know that Aiden is remembered, not just by me, but by our whole family.

I often find the most meaningful ways that Aiden is included in our lives are the little things that pop up, probably unnoticed by anyone but me. The moments that connect Aiden to our lives and to our family in the most natural and organic ways, without any effort on our part. The moments that make me feel like I was truly able to mother all three of my children, not just the two still here on earth. The moments that remind me of the few, very brief times that almost felt normal with Aiden, as if his short life hadn’t been full of pain, heartbreak and devastation.

When Aiden was in the hospital, we read him Goodnight Moon every night. It became our ritual. Something normal we could do in the midst of the heartbreak and agony of knowing our sweet boy would die.

Since then I have read that same book to both my daughter and now my son. The edges of the book are worn and the words and pictures are forever ingrained in my memory.

Every single time I read that book, my heart aches and yet fills with love and gratitude at the same time.

Every time I read it, I am taken back in time to when I would lean over Aiden’s bed in the hospital, maneuver around the various cords, tubes, lights and monitors, and read him those same rhythmic words.

Now today, more than six years later, my heart clenches each time I read it, as I remember those horrible, heartbreaking days in the hospital. Each time I read it, my heart and mind are brought back to the far too few times I had the chance to read it to Aiden. Each time I open the book a wash of sadness sweeps through my heart. But at the same time I feel so lucky to be reading this same book to my two healthy, beautiful, living children. So grateful that I have been able to read this same sweet story to all three of my babies.

Of all the books in our collection, Goodnight Moon has been a favourite for both of my living children. My youngest son, Gavin, now almost two, asks for that story almost daily, often saying the words before I get to them.

I am so grateful for the chance to be able to read this book to all of my children. So grateful that we had those few brief moments of normal with Aiden as we read him a bedtime story. So grateful for the hundreds of times I’ve been lucky enough to read those pages since. Grateful for yet another way to interweave Aiden into our lives.

I will keep reading this book to them as long as they’ll let me. A few months ago, my daughter told me that Gavin could keep Goodnight Moon in his room now, since it was a baby book. She’s moving on to princess stories and chapter books. But I hope every so often we can still snuggle up and read Goodnight Moon together.

As hard as it is to be taken back in time to those days with Aiden in the hospital, I will gladly read that story as many times as I can.

Remembering our days with Aiden, just remembering Aiden, will always make my heart hurt. He died and there is no way to take the heartache out of that. But I will gladly take a moment of pain, if it means I am able to share something so sweet and essential to childhood with all three of my children.

While Aiden was here, we had so few days to create any traditions that we could continue with all our children. I am so grateful for the chance to be able to carry on the tradition of reading Goodnight Moon to all three of my babies.

  • Melissa Russell

    Melissa is the mother of three children, two in her arms and one forever in her heart. Her first child, Aiden, died in 2010 at 19 days old. Several days after his birth it was discovered Aiden was missing almost all of his small intestine, and his condition was too severe to respond to treatment. Melissa and her husband have gratefully welcomed two more children into their family since losing Aiden. You can find Melissa at Simple Lionheart Life, writing about creating a simple and intentional life as she tries to figure out the world again after losing Aiden.

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