I felt prompted to help my grandson Caleb
write these letters to his family
on his 7th birthday.
He died unexpectedly a few weeks later.

Dear Mother,

Many years ago you went in for an ultrasound very early in your pregnancy. You found out that I was a boy . . . and you also found out that I was missing my brain. When the medical professionals told you that I had no chance of survival and recommended an abortion - thank you for having the courage to listen to your heart and not your fears. When they told you I would have no quality of life and that I would ruin your family’s quality of life, thank you for choosing to discover what quality of life really means. When they told you I was missing an eye, thank you for choosing to see me as your precious son and not what the doctor called me (not viable - not conpatible with life). When further tests revealed that my entire head had not formed correctly and that my cleft-plate, partially formed nose and multiple missing cranial structures would make eating and breathing in a usual way impossible, thank you for choosing not to despair, but to devote yourself cheerfully and gratefully to my 24-hour care. When the doctors told you to take me home, buy a burial plot and let me die, thank you for choosing to fight for my life and celebrate each day I was in your home.

These past seven years have brought multiple hospitalizations and near death emergencies. We’ve spent a lot of time in hospital, you and me. Thank you for always being there right beside me when each individual breath was painful, labored and exhausting. I’ve heard your every prayer, every heart-felt longing and each exhausted plea to God. And though I’ve never been able to speak a word or raise my arms to embrace you, never doubt how much I love you my precious mother. There is a love deeper than life and broader than time between you and me, an eternal bond that time and circumstance will never break.

I am so grateful that you have chosen to live the past seven years with joy, not sorrow – that my presence was and is enough for you. The world defines us by what we can do. Thank you for choosing to define me by who I am. There will be a day, beyond this life, when I will be able to say all the things I never said, but I have a feeling you already know. When two hearts are knit together, there is often no need for words.

I was born in the winter, a time of waiting before the spring. Always remember that winter’s promise is the hope of spring. There will be a day when the time of waiting is over and all that was lost will be reborn.

I love you mom.


Dear Father,

I know you and mom stay up late every night with me so my medication can take effect and also to have some special snuggle time with me. You and Mom usually tuck me into bed around midnight, but it usually isn't long until my alarms start beeping, I need suctioning, a diaper change or more medicine. A few nights a week I have a night nurse who sits with me from 12-6 so you and mom can get some sleep. But on the other nights, it is you and me Dad. You are always there with me when I need you in the night. Those late night hours when it is just you and me mean everything to me. In this life I will never be able play catch, or even speak or hug you. But I know that when fathers love their sons, they love them in the way they need to be loved. With us it is g-tubes, respirators and diapers.

You are always there with me when I need you in the day also. Dad, thank you for going to work every day at BYU so that all of us have everything we need.

Dad, I want you to know about something you may not see. When fathers love their sons like you love me, the powers of heaven open. There are angels around you every night, lifting your arms when you are too tired and keeping you awake when every cell in your body screams for sleep. I am aware of and grateful for every time you turn me, change my diaper, suction me then hug me and kiss me. You never complain, and though I can’t respond when you talk to me, I hear you Dad. I hear every word, spoken or unspoken, every desire, and every prayer to God in my behalf.

I also love the way you tease me like Dad’s do. Like the way you call me One-eye and let me dress up as the one-eyed pirate on Halloween.

I love the way take me everywhere and proudly tell people I am your son. When you come into my room at night I always proudly tell the angels that you are my father.

I love you Dad.


Dear Brothers,

Josh, Matty and Mitch - I’m so happy that you are my brothers. You always take time every day to include me and make me an important part of the Moody boy’s story.

I remember when you used to crawl in in crib when I was a baby and sing “I am a child of God” when my heart rate was getting too slow. You always brought me toys and even though I couldn’t play with them the way you do, I imagined myself playing with them and it was still fun.

I love it when you hug and kiss me and tell me about your day. Even though I can’t raise my arms to hug you back, I love the way you lift my arms around your neck and put your cheek next to my lips.

When you talk to me I can’t answer you with my mouth in words, but I hear you listening to me with your heart. When you’re listening that way you can hear me telling you, “I love you Josh.” “I love you Matty.” “I love you Mitchell.” Thank you for helping mom during the day when I need to be turned or suctioned. That is such a nice way to tell me you love me back.

Don’t worry about my eye that is missing. When I was in heaven, I knew the Baadsgaard secret code for telling each other “I love you, you’re wonderful, and you can do it!” It was a wink. I knew that I would never be able to speak to you with words in this life, so I thought of a plan. That is why I chose to come as your brother winking so that you would always know that I love you and believe in you. Thank you for believing in me – believing that I am still your brother inside this body – even though I can’t move, or see or hear or think the way you do. Thank you for believing that even though I’m missing my brain, I’m not missing my heart and soul. Thank you for believing that we will always be one of the Moody boys and we’ll always love each other forever.

I love you Joshua.

I love you Mathew

I love you Mitchell.

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shirlgirl said...


Janene Baadsgaard said...

Shirley, hearing from you makes my day.