I wish I could be happy for you; I really do.
And maybe there is still some part of me that is. I know your baby will be our son’s cousin, and for that alone, I love him.
It’s not your fault, nor his, that he will be born not quite five months after our baby died.
And yet… that fact will change what otherwise would have been an unequivocally delightful moment in our family.
The thing is – I am jealous. Terribly, tremendously jealous.
I wish I weren’t, but there it is.
I am jealous that you will get to bring your baby home when I didn’t.
I am jealous that people will ask you about your baby when even you don’t know how to talk to me about mine.
I am jealous that your parents will squeal with delight over this new grandchild when they only cried upon meeting the last one.
I am afraid they will describe yours as their second grandchild when really, he is the third.
I am afraid he will grow up not knowing he has a cousin who should be the same age.
I know you will all be sympathetic when you call to tell us the news.
I know you will understand why it will be so hard for us to hear that this new baby has entered the world without any problems, the way we thought ours was going to.
I know you will be sensitive because our wound is still so fresh. You will probably experience a brief moment of sadness when you talk to us, but that sadness will be forgotten as soon as you hang up the phone.
I know, because I remember how being with your new baby wipes away everything else.
Even I didn’t have room for sadness when I was staring at my beautiful boy’s face as he lay dying in front of me.
What I need you to know is that the flashbacks, the jealousy, the picturing what-might-have-been will not stop for me when you bring your baby home, the way we never did.
It will not stop when he turns five days old and is officially older than his older cousin ever was. No, your baby will never be just your baby when we look at him.
I’m sorry, but it’s true.
We will love him for himself, yes.
We will recognize all the wonderful ways that he is uniquely him, yes.
But he will also serve as a permanent echo in our family of the son we didn’t get to keep.
You see, they would have been the same age their whole lives. It seems obvious, I know, but it will be easy for you to forget.
Our baby will always be a baby, while yours will slowly become a little boy, a smelly teenager, a full-grown man.
And as we watch him grow and celebrate each milestone with you, we will be thinking of our own son. We will be wishing we could watch him turn into a little boy, a smelly teenager, a full-grown man.
We will see him echoed right alongside your son for his entire life: your son, the cousin who should have been a few months younger.
On his first birthday, please understand why our smiles aren’t as big as everyone else’s. You see, we will be thinking of the birthdays we will miss with our boy.
When he goes off to his first day of kindergarten, forgive us for not being sad with you that he is growing up. You see, it is a reminder that our son isn’t.
When he loses his first tooth or goes on his first date or graduates from high school, we will be silently marking these moments for our son, as well – keeping track of anniversaries from a life not lived.
So, while I wish I could be happy for you, I’m just not there yet.
I’m not ready to celebrate a lifetime of milestones and accomplishments for your son that I won’t ever get to have with mine.
– Your Sister-In-Law