I struggle with the loss of Cayden every day from different angles. I feel my own grief due to how much I miss my sweet niece. I grieve for my son, Lincoln, who was never able to meet his only cousin. I grieve for my parents who cherished their granddaughter and every move she made. And most painfully I grieve for my brother and sister-in-law, Cayden’s parents, who must adjust to a life they never had any business even imagining. I live in New York City with my husband Brian and my 7 month old son Lincoln. When Cayden passed away, Lincoln was only 3 months old and my family asked that we not come down for the funeral as they were too nervous about this sickness that had already taken our Cayden from us. Missing the funeral for someone you loved so deeply is a difficult thing to manage. Below is what I wrote for my cousin Michelle to read that day at the funeral. I wanted to share it with all of you, especially those that were not able to attend. I have also included a picture of my son, 3 months old at the time, who was dressed in pink for his cousin.
Thank you for reading Jessica’s wonderful blog. I hope to contribute more of my memories and my healing process in the future.
I have just recently come to understand firsthand the love that a parent has wrapped up in a child. With the birth of my son in late August, I have experienced more happiness and affection than I ever dreamed it was possible to feel for another person. And I can now comprehend the fear of that pendulum swinging the other way, from the incredible happiness they bring you to the devastating sadness that any pain they experience may cause. This new knowledge has made me realize that losing them before their time should be unimaginable. What these two parents are experiencing is too hard to even consider, much less process as reality.
I am Cayden Gracie Smith’s Aunt. It has been a title I’ve been delighted and proud to hold. I live far away and have not been able to experience Cayden’s day to day milestones in person. As many of you who do not live close to your loved ones can understand, this has always been difficult for me. But I often found comfort when thinking of how my relationship with Cayden would grow over the years: how we would travel together, I would show her New York City, Rome, take her to the ballet… And how she would come to me in her teenage years when she was on the outs with her parents. I know she loved her Aunt Lindsay and Uncle Brian, but I also knew that my role with her would change and become even more important as she got older. That has been taken from me and I will have to come to terms with that on my own. What I would like to do now is thank all of Cayden’s other aunts, the ones that got to be there for her in person more than I could: Aunt Heather, Aunt Whitney, Aunt Nicki just to name a few… I know that each of your individual relationships with Cayden and her parents are thanks enough. But know that I have and continue to appreciate those relationships as well.
And now, for my son Lincoln. He was due to meet his only cousin Cayden this coming Friday at our home in NYC. He didn’t know it yet, but Cayden took her responsibilities as cousin quite seriously. So seriously that she decided it more appropriate to refer to him as her “baby brudder”. My parents, and Brenton and Jessica, would correct her with a smile. But Cayden was right. She already had more love for this little boy with whom she would now be sharing her beloved Gran that referring to him as “cousin” just wouldn’t cut it. He was her brother. It breaks my heart that my son will never know Cayden in person. Today I promise that he will know her in spirit and develop his own special wonder for her little soul.
My husband Brian, my son Lincoln and I cannot be there today. It is another event we are forced to miss. I respect and deeply appreciate my family’s wishes that we stay in NY to care for Lincoln. So THANK YOU to this community, Brenton and Jessica’s larger family, for being here and playing your own role but also playing our role for us. Your responsibility is great. Know that Brian, Lincoln and I love and appreciate you all from the bottom of our hearts. I ask this community to remember your responsibility to these loving parents. They shared their precious daughter with all of us. It is your job, our job, to remember them every day and take care of them in whatever manner needed not just in these coming days, but long from now when their loss still touches them deeply.
I will say goodbye to Cayden on my own and not through these words today. Today I simply thank all of you for loving my brother Brenton, my sister Jessica and my dear, sweet niece, Cadybug.
Here’s a picture of the first time Aunt Lindsay met Cayden ❤