Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Birth (infancy) (08/20/09)
TITLE: Happy Birthday, Dear Jacob
By Carol Scott
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The second child of a family that was told it would only ever have one, Jacob captivated them all as only a newborn could do. His father dreamed of the day they would toss footballs back and forth and go on long hikes together. His mother began noticing little boys’ clothing in the stores and planning the first occasion to purchase a vested suit complete with its own little tie.
But no one was more excited than Chloe. After all, she had asked Jesus to put a baby brother in her mama’s belly – she told her parents so, even before anyone else in the family knew Jacob was coming. So she felt somewhat responsible for his joining the family, and she accepted that responsibility with a huge amount of sisterly pride. And she frequently reiterated her promise to be the best big sister in the whole wide world.
Jacob loved Chloe, too. Mommy and Daddy were great, too, of course; but Chloe was something special, an entertainer extraordinaire. Her four-year-old antics, especially those done with props, like balloons, had him giggling weeks before he was supposed to be old enough to smile. Daddy caught it on videotape from time to time: Jacob sitting in his seat laughing his gurgly baby laugh as Chloe cavorted and pranced about him.
Those balloons were wonderful things. Whenever the family went to carnivals, restaurants or anywhere else that might offer balloons to children, Chloe always made sure they received not just one for her, but one for her baby brother, as well. He might not be old enough to hold onto it, but she faithfully saw to it that he was entertained by it. His delighted squeals rewarded her efforts.
He left the world quietly.
Apparently Jesus or one of His angels discussed this with Chloe in advance, just as she sensed his pending arrival from inside sources. One Friday afternoon, seemingly out of nowhere she asked her mother if Jacob was going to die. Of course not, her mama replied. Why, one of these days, when he learned to walk and talk, she would remember the time before she had a little brother and wonder why she had asked for one.
But that response didn’t satisfy Chloe, and she continued to pursue the subject for the remainder of that day.
The next morning when they awoke, Daddy started his usual Saturday morning ritual of getting Chloe ready for her dance lessons, making coffee and heating up a bottle to take to Jacob along with a clean diaper and some fresh clothes. Only when he reached the crib, Jacob’s little body was cold. Hours later, after the ambulance and ER crews admitted they could do no more to revive the tiny child, they family received special permission to hold him longer than families were generally permitted to do. How could they say good-bye in only the short time allotted by hospital policies and rules?
After the funeral was over and the relatives and friends had returned to their homes and their lives, Daddy, Mama and Chloe had to go home too, but their lives would never be quite the same because a very important part of them was no longer there. Someone, they never learned who, had taken down the crib before they returned, so they wouldn’t have to see its glaring empty presence in the room that had once held so much joy. But that didn’t make everything better.
And now when Chloe goes to restaurants, she still asks for an extra balloon for her baby brother. When the server tells her she is a thoughtful girl and asks where her brother might be, Chloe’s eyes mist over for only a moment as she looks upward and says he is in heaven. And when she leaves the restaurant, she releases one balloon and watches it fly skyward to entertain her little brother who would be just five years old today.
IN MEMORY OF JACOB EDWARD SCOTT
August 26, 2004 - Jan. 15, 2005
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