The Little Boy I Didn’t Get to Keep

August 4, 2017

He had blue eyes and an old soul. He endured more in 35 days than I ever thought possible. He tried his best and I hoped I would see him grow. But he is the little boy I didn’t get to keep.

The little boy I didn’t get to keep has a twin brother that misses him dearly.

He wishes he could sit next to his brother on the bus and he doesn’t understand why he is the only one in our house that doesn’t get to share a room. He understands far too much about death and is incredibly aware of what he is missing.

The little boy I didn’t get to keep is a big brother. His sisters are too young to understand what they are missing. They ask to see his pictures and call him brother. But they never got to meet him, and it’s hard to explain they have a brother they can never see.

The little boy I didn’t get to keep was an old soul.

His eyes told a story far greater than his age. We didn’t get to see them often because of the surgeries and medication that kept him sedated. But he knew I was in mother. He knew his father. He knew we rarely left his side.

The little boy I didn’t get to keep never came home.

He lived his entire life in the NICU. He never got to sleep in his bassinet or grow into his crib. His car seat and swing were returned after his death. His clothes were, too. The sales people were kind and let us take them back far after the receipt said we could because I couldn’t stand the thought of having two of everything in our home when I only had one of my son’s in my arms.

The little boy I didn’t get to keep would be eight years old.

No matter how much time passes or how the years seem to flow by it still doesn’t seem possible that he’s gone. I still have the phone number to the NICU stored in my phone from when I would wake up and call them to check on him in the middle of the night. I haven’t gone through his things since I stored them in a bin after his funeral. At his doctor’s advice, I haven’t read his autopsy. I know I am keeping these things for another day because then things of his are still on my ‘to-do’ list just like things for his siblings.

The little boy I didn’t get to keep is still sometimes forgotten.

But not by me. I am his mother and that could never happen. He is forgotten by others. Like when I have to remind people I have four children. Or when they see us as a family of five and I know we are six. Or when friends refer to my fourth child as my third and it stings my heart in a way I can’t explain.

The little boy I didn’t get to keep forever has a piece of my heart.

I was shattered when he died. I thought I would forever be broken. Very slowly, over many years, my heart began to mend. Though I know I will never fully heal this side of Heaven – we have pieced back together our lives. We are healing and we are happy. But no matter how long it has been, or how much healing takes place- he will always be mine, and I will always be his. I wouldn’t change this for all the world.

The little boy I didn’t get to keep is missed far greater than I could explain. And for him, I will always weep.


  • Megan Skaggs

    Megan is mother to identical twin boys, Will and MJ, and daughters Maci Jayne and Thea Rose. MJ was born with a severe birth defect called a congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) and passed away in her arms at 35 days old. All four were conceived after battles with infertility, along with a fifth baby who was miscarried after her twins were born. Megan runs a division of Project Sweet Peas called MJ's Memories and also blogs here.

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