Sawyer’s Aunt

April 10, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Posted in Death, Grief | 6 Comments
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On my last post, The Good Cook commented that “It truly does take a village to mourn one lost love.”. We are not alone in our grief. Other family members mourn. Friends mourn. Sawyer and Jake are loved and remembered by many.

Not long after he died, one of Sawyer’s amazing aunts wrote the post below:

This is incredibly sad for me to write.  I hope writing about it helps.

My brother’s baby stopped breathing and died in his sleep, almost two weeks ago.

We were all in terrible shock. Sawyer was a sweet, beautiful little thing, only a month-and-a-half old. We’d just Skyped with my brother and sister-in-law and watched him sleeping contently in his mother’s arms. I’d had the chance to hold him myself over Thanksgiving. Impossible.

And not fair. Especially not for my brother and his wife, who’d already lost their first baby due to medical complications. They then went on to have twins–a boy and a girl–now two-and-a-half–both adorable. But now this.  I can’t imagine having to go through the death of a child once, let alone twice.

I flew as quickly as I could to their place, hoping to support them in any way possible. When I arrived, family was already there helping. Others would arrive soon. There was also a great circle of friends who stopped by to lend a hand and offer condolences.

A neighbor from down the street, came to drop off food and check in on my sister-in-law and brother. She told me she had lost her own daughter to SIDS. She showed me a pendant she wears around her neck always reminding her of her daughter. I was told shocking stories about others who too, had lost children.

I asked her how she was able to handle the grief. She explained she already had other children at the time, and she had to go on living for them. I thought of my brother’s twins and was hopeful that my brother and sister-in-law would be able to do the same.

My niece had been asking where her baby brother had gone. My nephew would run up to his mother, stroke her arm, hug her and say, “I’m so proud of you, Mommy.” She would thank him and try to hold back the tears. Both the twins knew things were out of sorts, and that their little brother wouldn’t be living with them anymore, but at this age, they didn’t fully understand what had happened. A small blessing for now.

We all asked WHY? Why him? Why them? Why now? I thought of what amazing parents they both are. In addition to making sure their twins are well-fed, happy and educated (as educated as 2-year-olds can be) they keep their kids so well protected that I’ve had to ask them to help me get into the bathroom, or turn on the stove because of all the child-proofing they’ve done. It’s clear there’s no lack of love or protection for the children in their house. But no matter how many times we asked why, there were no clear answers, and there likely wouldn’t be for quite a while.

When we finally attended the funeral, on a chilly Atlanta morning, the rabbi conducting the service brought up a question I’m fairly certain none of us had asked.

“As adults we ask, ‘Why?’…What we need to ask is, ‘When?’ “

Ask when? When what?

“Ask WHEN Sawyer is…WHEN is Sawyer,” he said.

I didn’t understand what he meant, but he went on to explain.

Sawyer is when…we’re spending time with family. He’s when…we’re out for a walk on the beach. He’s when…we’re at a ballgame. A bit of him is with us when…we are. Simple.

I understood what he meant.  It brought a small measure of peace.

The sentiment will stay with me always. So will a bit of Sawyer. And I’ll never forget…when.


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  1. What a beautiful, beautiful post and how lucky you are to have such an amazing family. I will have to always remember that now, “when.” I love it. I’m so glad you shared this.

  2. “When”. Your rabbi is a very wise man. When? Always and forever.



  3. That is a beautiful idea, and yet so hard to move past asking why? why? why? I’m thinking about you, Lanie.

  4. Your sister in law writes so eloquently. The lives of Sawyer and Jake have touched so many. I love your rabbi’s thoughts. Thinking of you.

  5. Wow your sister in law is amazing. You are an amazing mom as well. I am proud of your twins for being so compassionate even though I don’t know you. Thank you for a beautiful post and you are in my prayers.

  6. […] raced up our driveway.  My thoughts not so unexpectedly went to our never will be 4-year-old boy, Sawyer.  And then out of the car toddled their youngest daughter.   I remember her mom telling me that […]

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