She was the person I called every single day for advice, words of encouragement or just to tell her what I ate for lunch or what color my son’s poop was! The only person I went to when I needed a recipe, a diagnosis or an honest opinion. Always being the shoulder for me to cry on. My little sister and I even nicknamed our strong relationship, the 3 B’s (after our last name). We would boast about the secrets only the 3 B’s shared and the memories we made.
I was two months pregnant with my second son when my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. She wasn’t even sick. She fell one night and broke her femur. When they took her into surgery they found that the cancer had spread to her bones. Needless to say, this was an enormous shock to my very close family and my three siblings and I were heartbroken.
It was July when my mom was diagnosed. Then in August I found out I was having my second boy. I was hoping for a girl, and so was my mom. Telling her about my pregnancy was hard since she couldn’t even comprehend it because she was in so much pain and on way too many medications.
My mom passed away in October. We only had four months from the time she was diagnosed until the day she died. Those four months weren’t even time well spent since my mom was in so much pain. She rarely spoke and had trouble opening her eyes most days. Losing my mom was the worst thing I have ever faced.
It’s true what everyone says about loss – it goes in stages and time does heal. But those first few days after she passed away I felt like I wasn’t going to survive. The difference was, that I had to survive – not only for myself but for my family and the little baby boy growing inside of me. My mom would be telling me to hold my head up high, she would have been telling me not to let the grief hold me captive. She would want me to live my life.
Looking back at those first few months, the thing that really helped me through it, besides the love and compassion of my husband and my friends, was that little baby boy inside of me. It was almost as if he was protecting me now. It was like we were going through this horrible tragedy together, but he would not let me fall apart.
My son Jake was born on March 20th, five months after my mom died. His birth was easy and fast and a bit of a blur. As a baby he was nicknamed the “Buddha baby” because of his calming affect and overall pleasant personality. He continues to be the Buddha baby in many ways and has the happiest demeanor. In fact, I often get comments from strangers on the street about his infectious smile and overall calming nature.
In many ways, Jake has inherited a lot of my mom’s qualities. Particularly the outpouring of compassion, and not to mention the constant snuggles! Jake is named after my mom, whose name was Judy. His middle name is Taylor because my mom loved James Taylor. When she was in the hospital we were constantly playing his songs on repeat. James Taylor was the only artist I could listen to for many weeks after my mom passed. James Taylor’s song “Sweet Baby James” turned into “Sweet Baby Jake.” It became the song I would lull my baby to sleep with at night.
James Taylor is the only singer who would calm my screaming baby on long car rides. The name Jake Taylor is so much more than just a name. His name symbolizes so much about my mom that I loved. His Buddha baby personality, his amazing dimple, and his caring, sweet nature are what my mom gave me as her last gift.
Jessica lives in Stamford with her husband and sons Ryan, 7 and Jake, 4. She has been teaching middle school social studies in Westchester for 15 years. She is a CT native, growing up in West Hartford and moving to Fairfield county when Ryan was only one month old. She enjoys traveling, going to the beach with friends, a nice glass of Rose on a warm summer day, a good book, and laughing and making memories with her boys.