I am sitting on the couch, reading a book, when I suddenly gasp.

"Who died?" my three year old immediately cries as he comes running to my side. "Nobody has died." I assure him. "Mommy just read something in my book that surprised me." Reassured, he returns to his game; he is building a power drill with clicks. Yet my husband and I exchange silent looks of pain. The truth is that someone has died, and this death fills the room with unspoken heartache.

A few days ago, I was five months pregnant Just a few days ago, I was five months pregnant. Now I am no longer pregnant. A person who was not yet a person has died. My kids did not know I was expecting, and now they do not know I am no longer expecting. Yet they sense something intangible, impossible to pin down- a vague feeling that death has touched us.

I decide to go shopping for new candlesticks. In anticipation of another baby, I had purchased a special candlestick with three branches, one branch for each of my children, and one space for a new baby. This miscarriage succeeds a previous one that the doctors are at a loss to explain. For more than two years I have looked at that empty space waiting to be filled with the arrival of their long awaited sibling.

Now it is too painful to endure that empty center space. I purchase two single candlesticks, each enhanced by a delicate crystal flower surrounding the candle-holder. These flowers fill me with hope that our family will continue to grow, even if I will no longer bear children, because my children will blossom and one day raise families of their own.

I set up my new candlesticks and remove the older one, which has served as an on-going reminder of our losses. "Should we give it away?" I ask my husband. "We'll keep it for now," he replies, placing it in the back of the cupboard. Perhaps one day my children will come across it, and wonder. What will I tell them then? Will I tell them the story I couldn't tell them when they were younger, how I desperately wanted to give them another sibling, and yet only succeeded in giving them the gift of each other?

"Your children play so beautifully together," friends and relatives comment, as though I must have a secret. I do have a secret. Frequently, as I put my children to bed, I tell them the story of our family. "Once there was a Mommy and a Daddy. G‑d wanted to give them a present, so He gave them a little girl." "Me" my older daughter asserts confidently. "That's right." I acknowledge. "G‑d also wanted to give her a present, so He gave her a baby brother." "That's me" my son asserts. "That's you." I echo. "G‑d gave you both to us because He wanted you to be special friends and always take care of each other."

My children have internalized this message. They know that they were chosen to share this special sibling relationship. What they do not know is they almost had other siblings as well. These others are part of the story of our family.

Jewish tradition teaches us that we don't light candles for children that were never born alive, such as babies who miscarried or were stillborn, because lighting a candle is part of the spiritual elevation we perform on behalf of our children's souls. These souls who never lived outside of the womb have no need for any rectification; they return directly to the Upper World, unblemished.

Without a candle to light, there is no external testament to these other two souls, who lived briefly and invisibly as members of our family. There is only a feeling of loss in the air, a feeling even my three-year old experiences as he plays clicks on the floor. A sudden gasp while reading is suddenly a cause for concern, and death stares at us silently from the corner of the room.

One day, I will tell this story to my children This Shabbat, my children's candles, cups of pure olive oil and water, with a floating wick at their center, will need to burn especially brightly to chase away the shadows in the room. By the light of their flames, it will almost be possible to imagine the delicate petals curled around their candles beginning to unfurl.

With my previous candlestick shut away tightly in the cupboard, it will almost be possible to imagine our family as whole and complete with no empty spaces: almost, but not completely, because grief does not relinquish its hold on us so quickly.

Still it is necessary to play these games of imagination, to imagine a time when grief has loosened its grip, and my tears have dried. One day, years from now, I will tell this story to my children.

There will be questions then. Questions I have asked myself, and floundered in the resulting silence because the answers remained hidden to me. But I will tell my children this story, because I know that when I reach the next world, I will meet these souls that touched mine so briefly and so meaningfully, whose brief lives never had a chance to illuminate this world with their light.

I know that then they will tell me their stories. As they speak, I will bask in their light, because in that world, all the unlit candles will be burning.