You’ll Always be my Boy

photo credit: Stéfan via photopin cc
photo credit: Stéfan via photopin cc


Hey there – son. I’ve always wanted to write this, a letter to you. But you know, there’s not really any proof that you ever existed.

You would have been my first born. A son. Me, the father of three girls, with a son.

So many bloggers write about children they physically met, or physically carried, children who spent so little time on this earth and were called home. They’re angels, with names, with faces. You were a dream.

You were a deep feeling of sadness in the middle of the night.

You were the son I never had, and might not have ever existed. Because so many have lost children so much bigger than you, with names and nurseries made, I felt bad about thinking about you, much less writing about you.

But, for a moment, in your dad’s heart, you did exist.

# # #

photo credit: Fadzly @ Shutterhack via photopin cc
photo credit: Fadzly @ Shutterhack via photopin cc

I dreamed about you, so early after your mom and I decided it was time to start a family. So early on, your mom was late. I was convinced it meant you’d been created. And that’s when the dreams began.

I saw your face, happy, but, different. A wide, happy smile. Spikey hair. And … special needs. You were so clear to me, so beautiful. And you needed us. We needed you.

There were probably only two dreams, maybe three, but each time, this is how I saw you. And on the cusp of becoming a father, I felt … ready. I saw myself on the floor with you, Holding you. Talking to you and teaching you. And learning from you.

Part of me had already started. Only days later, when your mom woke up in the middle of the night, I had to say goodbye.

I don’t know if you ever existed. But when she woke up, came back to bed and said “I got it,” I knew what it meant. It meant she wasn’t pregnant. Even if it felt to me like she was.

Maybe you were here for a moment, and something went wrong. So, you stayed home. And so in that space between sleep and consciousness, I told you goodbye.

# # #

Mary Magdalene Crying Statue

So many friends deal with more than a semi-conscious sadness like your dad did.

I don’t know if you existed, on a technical, cellular level. You existed in my heart. And soon after that night, your mom went weeks and didn’t get “it,” and there were pregnancy tests and jubilation and calls to future grandparents, and in the elation of our Elise coming into this world, I didn’t dream of you anymore.

Elise filled our hearts. Then Marie came, and Grace, too. Your little sisters. And the thought of not having Elise, then Marie, then Grace, is unfathomable to me. But, if you had come into this world … Elise never would have. I couldn’t have known.

How can you mourn a child you never had?

# # #

All this is true Tyson, and life is so full now with your sisters. But every time I read someone’s blog about a child lost, a child remembered forever, I think of you. Automatically.

And that’s all the proof I need.




Perfection Pending


  1. Oh Eli. I have tears. That was so beautiful, and you know, I totally get it. As a mom of all boys, I dream about my Natalie. She would have been our first. I know it was a girl whom I lost at 6 weeks. But, like you said, if I would have had her, I wouldn’t have had Joey and all his brothers. And as painful as having Joey only to lose him was, it made me the mother I am today. Thank you for writing this beautiful letter. And don’t ever feel bad for feeling bad just because some of us have lost our children. You – and me – well, we’ve lost our dreams and that hurts, too. Hugs to you.

    1. I’d hoped I would hear from you, Kathy. That you said not to feel bad about writing it means a lot. We didn’t find out beforehand the gender of any of our girls, so there was always this smaller sense of loss when they were born and their male possibility was not – but with Tyson, it felt so much more palpable, because of the situation.

      Thanks again, Kathy!

  2. This is a beautiful post, Eli. You offer a perspective many women undoubtedly identify with. I can honestly say though, this is the first I’ve ever heard from a man’s point of view. So very touching. Thanks for being man enough to share.

    1. Thanks Jennifer. I know it’s different when you carry the child, but also,when you’re as invested as we dads are in a child … this sort of loss is felt.

      As I said, I wondered if I had a place to share this really, with so many people I care about having suffered more concrete losses. It was an experience, though, that I think colors a bit my life as a father today.

  3. Even if you love your daughters fully your heart yearns for a son. Actually we want both son and daughter. You depicted beautifully that one can mourn a child one never had. Touching post.

  4. Eli, I tell you being the mom to all girls, I wonder sometimes if my husband has any of these feelings about not having a son. but if he does he has never said anything otherwise. However, I must say when I was pregnant I longed for one little girl and that got two. I am not sure deep down I would have known how to be a boy mom, but you better believe I would have tried to be the best and think we just know when it is out kids in our hearts how to be for them. But if I didn’t get at least one girl, I probably would have this type of dream too in reverse. So, yes I do get it on some level and thanks for sharing today with us.

  5. Lovely post, dear Eli. Thank you for sharing your heart’s deepest dream with us. As my eyes filled with ears, I could feel the love in very word that you offered to describe your dream…and reality.

  6. Thank you for sharing this deeply personal story with us, Eli. It will help countless people who have suffered a loss. When I look at my daughters, I often think how timing is everything. The timing for their creation and arrival was perfect. Had even the slightest shift or change altered that timing, they might not be who they are. They might not even be here. I thank my lucky stars every single day that the timing worked out for us. I never take that for granted and am deeply grateful.

    1. Thanks for reading it, Nicole. As I’ve said, I don’t pretend to know what loss is like for parents who had to say goodbye in a more real way than I did, but Tyson’s presence was real to me.

      Timing is definitely everything, especially with nature, the children we’re given, where we live with them, and more. A traffic light run here or a job accepted there changes everything.

  7. I’m with Nicole – the timing. It’s..freaky. So many stories can go so many ways. Thank you for sharing this story – I imagine it wasn’t easy to write, but you did it as beautifully as always. I haven’t experienced baby loss but there’s no time stamp on it that makes it any less real or painful. Whether it’s two days or nine months or…after.

    1. Timing is everything in life! And what we do, however small, can have huge implications – even as much as leaving a comment on a blog, right?

      Thanks Tamara. The idea of Tyson will always be part of who I am as a father.

  8. This is beautiful! I have three girls and I have rarely admitted that, when we found out the third was another girl, I was somewhat disappointed because we knew she would be our last and we would never have a son. Now, I cannot imagine my life without her and I often feel guilty for those feelings I had back then. I so appreciate you sharing this and validating what I’m sure many, many parents have felt.

    1. Thank you Lisa! There’s an unmistakable curiosity when we know we can’t have something, but the odd thing is I had no idea all three of my children would be girls when I dreamed of Tyson.

      I hope you don’t feel too guilty to feel disappointed – I think as parents we want the fullest experience we can muster, and we’ll always wonder.

      I hope someone can find some validation in this – I know I did, because I felt like I shouldn’t treat it the way some treat their own stories of true loss.

  9. Once again I love reading a story like this from a dad’s point of view!! From the minute I thought I was pregnant, I was in love with my babies and it was the first time that I truly understood (or at least better) what a few of my friends had experienced. Often, I think that most people think only the mom is affected when the pregnancy is so brief but you just showed us the deep impact it can have on a dad, too.
    Thanks for sharing your story.

    1. Thanks Kim! The love begins instantly, doesn’t it? I wasn’t aware of it until I knew it wasn’t time. To become a dad was the most important thing to me (still is) and I was ready. I just didn’t realize how ready I was.

  10. Wow Eli, just wow. This is such a beautiful post and hard to read on some level because you obviously really felt and loved the “thought” of this son – perhaps more then some fathers love their “actual” sons! It makes me smile to think you wanted a baby (a son!) so badly and with such an open heart. Thank you for sharing this.

    1. Thanks Allie. I still feel strange about writing it, in a way. I was just ready to be a dad – and having seen his face in my dreams, it just made it feel so imminent.

      Glad to have such awesome friends to share it with.

  11. This is a post with a big side step in it Eli, way out of the norm and I like it. Longing for something resonates so deep inside all of us. I know where you are coming form on this, a year after my son was born my first wife fell pregnant and lost the baby after two months. I dreamt that it was a girl. I named her and saw her in my dreams for years. But she was not to be. I don’t think many people realise that husbands are just as hurt by a miscarriage as the wife.

    1. Thanks Laurie. It’s been kept up inside pretty good. See, what happened to you and your wife feels so much more real than what we experienced.

      What did you name your daughter, mate?

      We dads definitely feel it. We’re not as connected in the process, but, we’re so ready for when the time comes.

      1. We called her Erin, whenever I dreamt about her she had my dark hair and green eyes. You’re right, we might not be carrying but we are part of the process. The child is half of us and I think people forget that. I thank you for this beautiful post Eli.

  12. wow. so beautiful Eli. so proud of you for bleeding out onto the page what was likely long stored in your heart. We almost lost our 3rd…..I consider it a miracle that she is here. Her existence was a surprise (well, sorta, because…um, duh! I did attend that class in school.) And here we thought we were happily done with our 2. Our little “millionaire” family. But now this surprise is threatened….and it seems unfathomable now that our family could ever have been complete at 2 children. So, yeah, life has a funny way of showing you what it is your heart truly desires. The things you never really knew how bad you wanted.

    1. Thanks Rore. I appreciate it. I did keep it in, because I didn’t think the pain was valid. I love the story of your miracle, though. I know that I just wanted to be a dad, no matter what child I had, what differences, what challenges.

  13. If a baby exists in your heart, he exists for real. From the second we (men and women) think pregnancy is even a possibility, that child takes hold of our heart. Such an honest and poignant post, Eli. Thank you for sharing with us.

  14. Beautifully written, and sad. I understand. We had a early on loss (with the child that would have been our last). Once that child takes hold in your heart, there’s going to be a mourning process. We don’t often hear the Dad side of things. Thank you for sharing this.

    1. Thank you, Michelle. Glad you get me. Again, though, I feel like your loss was so much more real, because it was. I do know this child existed in my heart, at least.

      That’s what I’m here for – the dad side of things. That, and snacks.

  15. Beautiful words, Eli. My first born was stillborn, your words really spoke to me. During that time, I don’t think I was ready to be a parent, but I would have given it my best. Great post, thank you for opening your heart to us.

    1. Thank you, Tiffany. I’m so sorry about your loss. I’m also honored that my words spoke to you, having been through that. I’m not sure any of us is truly ready to parent, but we get it done, don’t we?

  16. My daughter’s name was supposed to Catherine Grace – Cate. Instead, I have 2 boys and lost 2 babies – Joy and Hope – I’m sure they were girls. It was hard to give up the dream of being a parent to more kids and I think of them often. It’s important to have names and to remember! 🙂

    1. What a beautiful name. And I don’t doubt for a moment Joy and Hope were girls (and perfect names for them, too). I think a parent’s love expands when it needs to, and there’s plenty for all the kids.

      Yes, it’s important to have names and to remember … those children are always in our hearts, even as our kids here fill our lives.

  17. This was truly beautiful, Eli. And don’t you dare apologize for your feelings of loss; if we always compared our losses to someone else’s, none of us would ever have the ‘right’ to grieve, or be sad. Someone else always “has it worse”. That doesn’t mean that our lost dreams,are any less substantial. And remembering them and mourning them doesn’t mean we are ungrateful for the blessings we do have.
    Thank you for sharing this part of yourself.

    1. Thanks, Kristi. You’re right about comparing our losses, because any hardship we have can pale in comparison to someone else’s, right?

      As I said, I don’t know if Tyson ever really existed, but he had a name and a place in my heart. Always will.

  18. I could picture Tyson too… he would have had the BEST father ever. And if it’s the case- truly, you will have eternity with him in precious time- and the girls will welcome him in to the family, as they should.

  19. I love your heart in this, Eli. This is such a beautiful and honest piece; one of the best I’ve read from you. Anyone who fills our hearts exists and matters, whether they fill our physical space or not. To lose what we hold dear is heartbreaking. Everyone’s loss and mourning looks different; each is valid and real. Tyson was real to you, so to lose him–even the thought of him, the idea of him–is sad. This piece is a beautiful way to honor him.

    Thank you for sharing. 🙂

    1. You’re sweet, Gina. I didn’t tell anyone I was going to write it. Another blog inspired me. And now I’ve thought of him more often, so that’s been the biggest plus.

  20. Yeah, I’m late to the party, but what a beautiful dream. Perhaps, in a life yet to come, you and Tyson will get that hug.
    I still dream about the one we lost, too. I like to think I’ll get to hug that boy one day, too.

  21. So beautiful. I think you’ll meet Tyson one day too. I know that this life is not all there is, and that one day, we’ll be blessed with all the spirits that were meant for us. Such a thought provoking post. I loved it.

    1. Thanks Meredith. I think I will, too. There’s got to be something bigger at play here, right? Glad you liked this post. I wasn’t sure it was a good fit for the linkup, but it’s one of my favorites.

  22. Beautiful. I lost Graham at 5 weeks pregnant and Sara at 4 weeks (the day after a positive pregnancy test). If either had been born, our little guys Heath and Brooks would not exist. It’s strange, I think of the babies I never knew every day. Except I did know them, just as you described, from the very moment I had those first twinges of nausea and knowing they existed. God bless. I hope writing about it helps you heal a little.

    1. Thanks Jaime. I’m so sorry about Graham and Sara. As Nicole mentioned in a comment here, timing is so integral. Without this exact timing, we wouldn’t have the kids we do.

      Existence starts with those first twinges, I’m certain. God bless you too. This was something I’d just thought about and felt, never really put into words until this post.

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