Baby Beluga


Dearest Raffi,

I wanted to write to you today to share my gratitude for your incredible talent, generosity, and humility, but most of all, your ability to connect so deeply with the hearts of children and adults alike.

Today is my son Stephen’s birthday. He passed in 2009, so this day is always one that is bittersweet. I have so many beautiful happy memories of him growing up and becoming an amazing young man. But I also face a reality that no parent should have to face. I will never see his potential reached beyond his 23rd year. I can only imagine wedding vows, first homes, children, and all the beautiful milestones that mothers hope to see with their babies.

In that absence, I have decided to share the love I have for him with others. I write about gratitude in difficult times, and I try to help people see that they can find their way through the darkness by finding Just One Little Thing at a time to be thankful for. Simple concept. We can’t fix some of the big hurts that happen. But we can find one little thing. And if we can find just one little thing, we will be okay.

The approach to grief has truly saved me and connected me with people from all over the world. We cannot change the pains of our losses but can alleviate some of the suffering.

I was thinking, how should I celebrate his birthday this year? We always try to put some good out into the world, and our world truly needs love now more than ever.

So today, I wanted to thank you Raffi. I wanted to thank you for your music, and the beautiful fingerprint of love that your talent leaves on the soul of each person you touch. And I want to tell you about the magic of Baby Beluga.

Raffi music has been a staple in my house for both of my boys growing up. I have the fondest memories of watching them dance to the familiar rhythms and clap along and sing the silly lyrics to some of your classics. When I close my eyes and picture them…I see pure joy.

In particular, I remember my eldest son Stephen. He would stand so proudly, overalls on, and march around the house singing Baby Beluga. He LOVED that song. And today, as I remember those days 30 years later, I can still see his smiling face and the enthusiasm you can only find in the eyes of a child. What a gift you’ve given me. That would be more than enough for this mom missing her boy.

But that’s not the end of the story.

If you’ve known any bereaved parents, we always hope and pray for some sign that our children are okay. We long for just a glimmer of light to let us know they are not far away from us.

About a year after Stephen died, my husband, and I were in Fortune Harbor, Newfoundland with my sister and brother -in-law. Fortune Harbor is untouched, and is one of the most beautiful places on earth.

I wanted to return to Newfoundland that year, much like the salmon swim upstream to the familiar waters they know to spawn. My birthplace, with its rugged shores, starry nights, and beautiful people, truly calls to me, especially when I am struggling. Newfoundland is where I discovered the roots of my own resilience.

We took a wonderful day trip around the bay, going out into the open waters outside the harbor to see if we could catch a glimpse of an iceberg or a whale.

On this particular day, to say I was missing Stephen was an understatement. I was aching for him. I was thinking about him at various ages, thinking about how beautiful he was, and mostly, how I was going to continue to move forward without him physically here with us.

As the boat cruises along, the sound of the engine and the water allows for little conversation, so it is easy to become lost in your thoughts. That suited me just fine. And the one thought that kept popping up in my mind over and over? Three-year-old Stephen, denim overalls on, marching around the house, singing Baby Beluga. I closed my eyes, bringing the image forward, giving thanks for the gift of happy memories.

For the rest of the ride, I couldn’t help but hum the song quietly. “Baby Beluga in the deep Blue Sea…”

After a day on the water with a few whale sightings, we headed back into the harbor to cook up a scoff. But as we entered into the mouth of the harbor, my brother-in-law Sean spotted a little friend following us. He slowed the boat down to get a better look, and to our absolute amazement, it was a baby Beluga, following us home. With its white coloring, it was a little older than a baby, but still a young calf by its size and energy.

The little guy followed us in, right up to the wharf for the boat. And then, he turned over on his back, and gave a little wave.

At this point, I am the only person who knows I’ve been singing this song for most of the day, and thinking about Stephen. I hesitated, but I had to say something. What are the chances?

First, I asked my brother-in-law. He said he had been going to Fortune Harbor his whole life, and this was the first time he’s seen a Beluga. So, I told my husband and my sister, and for the next couple of hours, that whale stayed and played, putting on a show for us. A nearby kayaker came by, and Mr. Beluga played with him, matching his movements beneath the water.

As the sun set on the day, I couldn’t help but think that Stephen and God sent me a beautiful message in the form of a Baby Beluga.

All is well, and I am right here with you.

So, on my son’s birthday, I want to share love with you Raffi. You have no idea of your reach and impact on so many. You have eased this bereaved mother’s pain, and allowed me to remember the beautiful childhood days of my son.

With Love and Gratitude,