NORMAN — Editor’s note: The following story was submitted to the Transcript’s annual Christmas story contest.
One chilly night at the zoo’s Trail of Lights, our family huddled together to watch a holiday puppet show. As I laughed at the merry scenes of dancing marshmallows and snowmen, for a moment my arms felt empty. I thought of how much our third son, Jacob, would have enjoyed the show. Sadly, we had a late miscarriage two years ago. Since that day, we continue to remember and cherish our sweet baby who now lives in Heaven. I think of him often, especially at events like this where our entire family enjoys our time together.
Eventually, we made it to see Santa. I spotted something beside Santa’s chair that brought tears to my eyes. I edged closer and saw a big, stuffed giraffe. There were no other stuffed animals in the Christmas display — not a lion, not a polar bear, nothing — just the giraffe. I knew this was Jacob’s way of saying hi to us.
The day after we had the miscarriage in 2010, we were shopping and I realized I hadn’t bought anything for the baby yet. Our sweet baby was gone and I had no mementos to hold and to remember him by, just a few fuzzy ultrasound photos. I raced to the baby section and found a baby giraffe. Since that day, giraffes remind me of our precious son.
When I saw the giraffe in the zoo’s Santa photo of our boys, I was grateful that even though Jacob wasn’t snuggled in my arms, our family will always be complete with him tucked into our hearts.
After leaving Santa, we all rushed to Giraffe Ridge to see the newest baby at the zoo. We pressed our noses to the cold glass and saw the sweet, fragile, yet amazing creature inside. What makes this baby all the more special is that her mama and I have something in common. The mama lost her first baby. Some people may not be able to imagine what it was like for her to see her baby in pain, and then to lose her. Unfortunately, I can. I know that while she and I communicate on totally different levels, we are both mommies who suffered unexpected losses of the children that we cherished and loved.
When our family’s festive zoo trip ended, we chatted about everything we had enjoyed — the dancing lights, the silly puppets, seeing Santa. And for me? All of the above. And of course, if I ever again see spots at Christmas time, may I always see them through a mommy’s eyes. What looks like a gangly, awkward giraffe to some, to me is a much-loved smile and treasured hug from my Jacob.