Sweet Kaden Layne,
Big things have happened since Mommy last wrote to you. Our family grew a little bigger, and the joy we feel each day has multiplied by a hundred at least. On January 1st your baby brother, Jack, made his entrance into this world. He was welcomed with the special kind of love a big sister feels. This is the kind of love Mommy and Daddy have always wondered about.
When Layne was first born Mommy and Daddy were so grateful to hold new life in our arms. After losing so much when you passed away, having Layne was the best gift. Having her helped us enjoy reminiscing about your first days. We loved comparing Layne's newborn features to the ones we could remember and see in pictures. We loved finding similarities between the two of you. Knowing that part of you might be seen in Layne's smile or her eyes or even the roundness of her nose made her arrival doubly sweet. When she was born we made a promise to her. Never would we expect her to fill the shoes that you left behind. Never would we expect her to be you. We promised to love her unconditionally and let her become the person God intended her to be.
Layne has certainly grown into a bright and cheerful little girl. And, of course, we always wonder what you would be like if you were here as a five-year-old. But the one thing Mommy and Daddy have felt like we have missed out on the most is getting to see what you would have been like as a big sister to her. How would you have wanted to teach her all that you know? Would you have sung songs and enjoyed music and shows with her the way we imagined you would? How would having you here to be a big sister to Layne have filled our days with even more joy than we could imagine? All these things we still wonder.
Wonder, we probably will still do. But now that Layne is a big sister, we can at least get a glimpse of what it might have been like to have you here. Layne's smile and excitement when she sees her baby brother after a busy day at school brings so much joy to Mommy. Her eagerness to help change diapers, hold her baby brother, and sing songs when he is upset is beyond sweet. Mommy enjoys watching Layne love baby Jack authentically.
When Jack was born Mommy felt differently than when you or Layne came into this world. Maybe it is because Mommy had some practice with both you and Layne. Maybe it is because Mommy's heart was near full going in to deliver baby Jack. Maybe it's because Mommy can see a little of you in this new baby. Your hair, your round little nose, your eyes. It's a good kind of different.
Several times since Jack was born Mommy's heart has overflowed with love and pure joy. If you had asked Mommy a few years ago if I thought this was possible, Mommy would have said, "No way!". I always thought that without you here with us Mommy's heart would always be a little empty. Sure, there are moments when Mommy still wonders how much more joy we would feel if we had three instead of two. There are even times when I feel so sad that I didn't get to know what kind of little girl you would be. But it's things like watching Daddy smile at Jack the way he smiled at you that brings Mommy joy again. It's looking at pictures of Mommy and Daddy and seeing the kind of happiness in our eyes that's been missing for some time. It's watching Layne look at Jack and say, "Awww...he's so cute!" in her little 3 year-old voice. It's knowing, in some way, you are part of all this, too, as Layne and Jack's big sister in heaven.
We love you and miss you sweet girl!
Layne & baby brother Jack.
Kaden Layne - 2009
Jack Dean - 2015
Layne McNeil - 2011