Dear child of my heart,
I’ve written a lot of letters over the years, some to dear friends, some to people I had never met, and others to the nebulous “to whom it may concern”, but apart from writing to Santa in my childhood, I’ve never written a letter to someone who didn’t exist. But in a way, you do exist. You are my child, the child of my heart. You were never conceived and no one knows you in the flesh, and you will never have a fingerprint or a social insurance number, but I know you. You exist in my mind and in my dreams, and most importantly in my heart.
Child of my heart, I am sorry we will never meet, but know that I imagined the day of our meeting a thousand times. The way I would hold you and weep when I finally saw your face. The way your dad would be in awe. How we would send the news to the far corners of the earth that you were here at last, our baby.
I am sorry that I will never carry you in my womb. I’ll never know what it felt like when you kicked me or be able to complain about your pressure on my organs. I’ll never know the agony of pregnancy nausea coupled with that tiny bit of joy because it means you’re still there, holding on. I’ll never touch the place on my middle where you are poking your little arms or legs or butt out, never be able to sing or speak to you, to be the first voice you will recognize.
I’m sorry that you will never be able to show me the depths of love that exist in this world or challenge my innate selfishness by just being a person who needs me constantly. When other women talk with knowing nods about how motherhood changes a person, I’ll think of you – my nonexistent child – and know that I would have been changed too, and maybe I already have been – but in ways that none of these women would understand if I told them.
I’m sorry that you will not know your loving grandparents. I’ll never be able to look at your expression and see my father or mother, my younger brother or your own dad staring back at me. I won’t come around the corner and be overcome with emotion when I see you moving your arms in a gesture that is just like your grandma. I’ll never know if you would have taken after me in my musical abilities or my husband with his mischievous spirit.
I think of all the experiences we were going to share. I was going to read to you, first Goodnight Moon and Paddington Bear, later Anne of Green Gables and the Narnia books. I was excited to see you experience beloved characters for the first time. We would take you to the park, to see you soar in the wind on the swings and use the slide with glee, knowing that mommy would always be there to catch you at the bottom. We would go to the cottage, and you’d splash around on the same beach that I did when I was a child, and we would race to the dam, pick raspberries, and mark your height each year on the side of the bedroom door jamb. Then I’d show you on another doorway how tall I was at that age, and your uncle too, and we would compare.
I was going to watch you grow up, experience hardships and pains that would break my own heart as I stood by but couldn’t stop them. One day, you wouldn’t like me that much, but we’d push through. I would make a million mistakes and say all the wrong things, but in every moment, you would at least know you were loved, so loved. If you ended up like me, you would want to spread your wings and fly far, far away. I would stifle tears and let you go to forge your own path because I too once (or twice or three times) stood at airport security with a big bag, waving at my parents as I went off for adventure in new lands. As I watched you go, I’d lean on my husband and let the tears out, and he’d remind me that you were strong and would have the time of your life.