JusJoJan Day 16: Three Minus One Equals Two

Just Jottin’ my way through January…

Are there any equations – mathematical or otherwise – that trouble you deeply?

I know. That might sound like a strange question – but the equation above troubles me, because, in my own life, it has taken on a far deeper significance.

I’m posting late tonight – this was a difficult post to write.

Those who’ve read here for a while may know that I have two children. But that’s not the whole story.

I’m the mother of three children. Our middle child, Elijah James, was born on July 13, 2003, and died twelve days later. His entire life was lived in hospital, the vast majority of it the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. A brain injury at birth caused profound and irreversible damage, and a grand mal seizure when he was six days old left him unresponsive, even on an instinctive level.

I had never thought about a baby’ crying as a blessed sign of health, until Elijah. Our eldest was born with a very strong set of lungs, and he used them. It tore at me, his cry – as evolution intended that it should, so I would keep him safe, and care well for him; so he could alert me when he needed something.

We never heard Elijah’s voice. He never cried, never suckled.

Such basic things. Things that parents of healthy babies take for granted.

Things subtracted utterly from the life of our second child, in the way that he was subtracted from our lives…but never from my soul.

I was sorting pictures last night, and I found two treasures I thought were forever lost: the only picture of Elijah with both his eyes open, taken the afternoon he was born, before I had even seen his face (he wasn’t breathing when he was born, and, once resuscitated, he was whisked off to the NICU, while I was kept for another agonizing four hours in recovery). He looks so calm in this photo, and there’s some solace in it; and the only picture of our family of four as it existed then, before Annalise was conceived, before we knew she would ever exist. It was taken two days before Elijah died, the day before the neuroneonatologist found him completely unresponsive, on the day when it became clear that he wasn’t likely to survive the circumstances of his birth.

I’m not ready to share these rediscovered treasures, just yet, even though Elijah would be eleven years old now. I want to keep them, for now, for us – our little family which can never be quite complete…

Do you have loved ones who’ve been subtracted from your life, and yet remain a part of your soul? There’s a safe place to share anything you’re inclined to, here.

And hugs to all.

Other, possibly more cheerful JusJoJanners.

Sweet baby boy…deeply missed.


  1. How precious to have found his picture with both eyes open. I’m sure it is hard for you to see but I think I can at least sort of understand why you would call it a treasure.

  2. Shan, I’m so sorry for your loss. I know words are inadequate but just know that my heart goes out to you and your family. ❤️

    • Words aren’t equal to some things, but your sentiment is. We choose to seek out joy, and peace, and connection, and, in a way, I do these things to honor Elijah’s memory by giving his siblings a better, happier life…

      • I understand. Even from the small window I have into your family, I can see you are doing a fabulous job. ❤️

        • I’m not perfect, but I am determined. I keep learning and growing, and that helps me to be more of what they need to do the same.

          Most of the time, it’s wonderful.

          And I love reading your stories of your family, too!

          • Thanks, Shan. We’re all just doing the best we can living this thing called life. 😉

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