I haven’t posted in what feels like forever. So much has happened since my last update that I sort of don’t know where to start, but I think that for now I’ll start at the end and work my way back. I will blog about my birthday, the awesome, awesome gift I got from my husband, our trip to Santa Fe, and my CJ birthday party in the coming days and weeks, but first I need to tell you all about Winston. 

When I found out last fall that my eldest brother and his wife were expecting their first child, my first niece-or-nephew, I was over the moon. I immediately started window shopping to find the perfect welcome-to-the-world gift for the little guy or gal. I think my husband initially thought I was crazy, but I know he started to get really excited about it too as time pressed on.

My husband can tell you that I’m a really vivid dreamer, that I almost always remember my dreams and the people in them in great detail.  Sometime in mid-December, way before the doctors were able to tell them the sex of their baby, I had a dream about him. We were at some kind of a zoo or public park, and my whole family was there. It was cold, so we all had winter coats and scarves on. I was sitting at a picnic table when my sister-in-law walked up with my brother, who was holding their little boy. He was about 3 years old in my dream, old enough to talk a little but not so old that he really understood much about what was going on around him. He had on a dark blue coat, black rubber rain boots, and was carrying a red balloon. The wind had blown his little hood off, and I could see that he had dark, thick hair and big, blue eyes. He was beautiful. I don’t remember anything else about the dream, just that he was there, and perfect, and we were all so happy. I didn’t tell my brother about my dream until he started polling my siblings in early January, the day before the got the ultrasound that would tell them their baby’s sex. He said he had been thinking it was a girl, but I told him that I was sure it was a boy, and that I had seen him in a dream.

I was right that it was a boy. But I was wrong that it had been him I saw in my dream. Last week on Tuesday, I missed a call and a text message from my brother mid-morning. He’s usually pretty savvy about my interviewing schedule, so I knew something was up, but I was in the middle of a crazy day at work training a new officer, interviewing in front of a Congressional visitor, and prepping to pick up my sponsee the next day to welcome her to Juarez, so there was no way I could step off the line to call him back right then. At lunch I called him from the car on the way home, and as soon as he picked up the phone I knew something was wrong.

At 26 weeks–6.5 months–the baby had died. And because she was so far along in the pregnancy, my sister-in-law would have to be induced into labor to deliver him. It was a long couple of days and on February 15 and 12:28 a.m., my perfect, darling nephew, Winston Alexander, was born still. Over the weekend, I kept in touch with my brother as they made arrangements and grieved for their lost son. On Monday, when we got back from Santa Fe, we booked plane tickets so we could attend the Friday evening funeral service.

It was the saddest thing I have ever witnessed. I don’t really know how we all made it through. I played a piano solo, a last-minute arrangement of one of my brother’s favorite hymns, and I accompanied a friend of theirs who sang this song. My brother spoke, and I honestly don’t know how he held it together, but he did, and the service was really beautiful.

My heart is completely broken for my brother, his wife, and our family, but I am so grateful that we were able to be there for them this weekend.  I don’t know if we’d have been able to find tickets last minute that were even in the realm of affordable if we hadn’t been serving in Juarez.  I know that I sometimes complain about CJ and about the weather here, and the dust, and my job. But today, I am grateful that we were posted here. I’m grateful that my bosses were kind enough to let me take Friday off to attend the funeral. I’m grateful that my husband was awake enough to direct me through the Philadelphia Airport on Friday at 6 a.m. after a red-eye from Phoenix to catch our 3rd and final flight to western NY. And last, but never least, I’m grateful for little Winston, even though I didn’t get to meet him, or watch Star Wars with him, or feed him oodles of candy on Halloween, or a million other things.

Goodbye, little guy. We love you.