A lullaby to the silently born

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Anne Lamott Dance with a limp

June has been full…one Junior tribe has gotten married, another JTM getting married in a few weeks, still another JTM returning from abroad after several months away this week. The name change to Conexus Counselling this week, with new website and new emails, new letterhead and business cards…it’s been hectic.

But June 18th was on the horizon…unspoken.

Getting larger, as the day got closer.

June 18th this year will be a full day of a hair cuts and shopping for flip flops, wedding shower for a JTM and his fiancé, and a wedding rehearsal for yet a different couple.

But in the quiet of the morning, I’ll slip out and go to the cemetery, and spend time, as I always do on June 18th, remembering and thinking of my little ones. The little ones born silently…held for only for a few hours in my arms, but held forever in my heart.

When I go each year, I take two white roses and big bunches of baby’s breath and some tissues, and generally a blanket or a lawn chair and I sit silently.  I remember what it was like to carry them, the terrifying moments where we feared for their lives. I dream about what the two JTM’s would be like now if they had a chance at life. And I remember how the ways their lives changed me.

I know now that we never get over great losses

And I cry. I think it would be odd to go your children’s grave and not spend some time crying, right? And while I’m there, I sing, too.

I sing them their lullaby.

I was reading the other day about Robert Munsch, the famous children’s author.  He and his wife had two still born children. And this is what he said:

Love You Forever started as a song.

“I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
as long as I’m living
my baby you’ll be.” 

I made that up after my wife and I had two babies born dead. The song was my song to my dead babies. For a long time I had it in my head and I couldn’t even sing it because every time I tried to sing it I cried. It was very strange having a song in my head that I couldn’t sing.

Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent Quote by Victor Hugo

I liked this idea: that he had a song in his head that he sang to himself to remember his children. I have often read Robert Munsch’s hilarious stories to my children with all the crazy voices that his writing demands. We loved his books, his acknowledgement of the messiness of parenting, the courage of children, and the understood implicit importance of the love of a parent in a child’s life.

This book has meant so much to so many…there’s something about the repetition of the lullaby that occurs over and over that makes this book hard for many I know to read without tearing up.  The enduring and powerful love expressed in this book is moving and profound.

It somehow meant so much to me that his heart had been broken by babies that had never breathed when I read about it.

What made this more profound for me to read this week, was that his book, Love you forever, was the one book that my silently born twin sons received as a gift. Friends of ours held a shower for us just as we were leaving California…and amongst the baby stroller and baby alarm and teddy bear and other items, we received was a copy of Munsch’s Love you forever book.


I love (as so very many do) the very real and powerful description of love in the book…that is gets hard and complicated and frustrating and rewarding and beautiful, and the love is persistent and gentle. That love takes turns being given and received over the course of a lifetime.

Sometimes one gives far more than the others for years and years…but there are tender moments where the relationship is restored and remembered and cherished.

Anyways…for some reason, someone decided that book needed to be read in my church one Sunday many years ago. The man who was to read it in the service picked up our copy of the book to use it to read.

I have never forgotten watching him read this book to the congregation that Sunday morning from the book my silent sons had received.

In my arms that morning was a baby. My baby.  6 days old. And I rocked him back and forth, back and forth, back and forth as I listened to the story.

My heart was full for the baby filling my arms, and from being so very aware that the ears that had been intended to hear the book never would.

I loved the fact that Robert Munsch had a song that he sung in his head to his children that he would never hold.

My silently born sons had their own song, too. One that I heard and liked and adopted to be “their” song…long before I knew I wouldn’t get to raise them.

Each of my children had their own special lullaby which I sang to them in the months before their birth…and then again in the months after. A little song that was intended to be special between the two of us.  A little tune that would cue him of the warmth and love of his momma…either when I sung it, or when they would hear it on cassette.

When I go to the cemetery tomorrow, I will sing the lullaby that I have been singing silently for years to my sons when they come to mind.

So…tomorrow I go to sit, to mourn, to celebrate, to grieve…and to sing.

All children need to be sung to, right?



  • Ruth Loewen

    Prayed for you today as I read this post, Carolyn. May your heart feel God’s comfort in a special way today.

    • Carolyn Klassen

      Thanx so much, Ruth!

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