November 2007: It was the beginning of Advent and Rita's turn to change the altar cloth on our family altar. As I lifted the large family Bible from its stand to dust Rita asked me a question.
"Mom, who is Baby W?"
"You have been reading the Family Records in the Bible haven't you?"
I sat her down and explained that she had a baby brother or sister who had died while in mommy's belly in 1996.
"Was it a boy or girl?"
"Well we thought a boy but I am not sure. The baby was only 12 weeks and ultrasounds were not as good as they are now."
"Where is the baby now?"
"But where is he buried?"
"I am not sure," I stumbled.
"Well I honestly don't know. The hospital took care of his body."
"Why did you and dad leave him with the hospital? Why didn't you bury him?"
Hard questions coming from a child who at 7 years old understood the dignity of the unborn child much better than my husband and I had at the age of 28. We were so excited to be pregnant. Our oldest Mr. WordSmith was 4 at the time. It seemed so much a painful blurr. One minute we were pregnant, the next minute we were looking at an ultrasound with only a sac of amniotic fluid showing. Our darling baby's body had disintegrated.
"So there was no body to bury"
"No, and truthfully I am not sure if there was daddy and I would have thought to bury him."
"Because people usually don't bury babies that are miscarried before 20 weeks. And in our grief, daddy and I never thought to ask."
"Why not? It does not seem fair."
"Your right..........it doesn't."
"So what is his name?"
"He does not have one."
"How will I know what to call him when I see him in Heaven?"
This was the end of the conversation as we were interrupted by the squeals of my extremely excitable 2 year old.................or so I thought. I was left with a very restless, uneasy feeling. Truthfully this was the same feeling I had continued to have over the years as I would look at the cold one line notation in our family Bible. "Baby W. died October 1996" Why had we never named this baby?
"He needs a name." Rita exclaimed at the dinner table.
"Who?" I asked.
"Baby W. I don't know what to call him and he needs a name. He's my bother or even sister. The baby deserves a name. It bothers me that he does not have a name. Mom, isn't he is a unique Soul created by God?..........He deserves a name."
I was startled. It had been over two weeks since our initial conversation. "Would you like to name him?" I asked.
"Yes, can I?"
"I think he would like that."
"Should I pick a boy or a girl name? Or maybe one that would be okay for a boy or a girl. Yes, that way the name will fit if the baby is a boy or a girl."
"I think that is a good idea. You think about it and let me know what you decide."
One week later................
"Shoo and I figured out what the babies name should be. We will call the baby Francis after St. Francis of Assisi. What do you think?"
"I think it is a wonderful name."
My darling little Francis,
Mommy is so sorry we did not give you a name. Daddy and I have loved you since the day you were conceived and I have never forgotten you. One day we will meet again................