Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Club

It was early October, 2007.  An acquaintance had just shared with me that she and her husband were expecting.  She also shared with me her fears.  You see, she and her husband were part of a special club.  They had previously suffered a miscarriage.  I distinctly remember feeling sympathy for her and thanking God that I was past that 12 week mark.   On the evening of the day of her next appointment I saw her husband.  The look on his face spoke volumes and without saying a word, I knew the news was not good.  He confirmed that the baby had died.  I wept and told him how sorry I was for their loss, and I was, but in terms of truly understanding their pain, I was completely clueless.  I couldn’t possibly understand.  I wasn’t yet a member of the club, nor did I want to be.  Unfortunately for me, very soon, I would be fully initiated into that club. 

It was now late October, the 25th to be exact, and suddenly I found myself lying on an ultrasound table, with my husband and little girl at my side, staring at a screen displaying my dead baby.  What was supposed to be a wonderful and exciting 20 week ultrasound had now turned into every mother’s biggest fear.  In the blink of an eye the sympathy I felt for my friend transformed to empathy, and the sorrow I felt for her and every family who has ever lost a child, skyrocketed.  In that moment my relationship with her changed forever.  I was now “in” the club.  In our pain and sorrow we were now bonded.  Today, she is one of my closest friends.  She is my sister.   We are members of a club that no one wants to be in.

It has been almost 4 years since I delivered our dead baby.  In that time I have learned many things about the club.  First, it is a much larger club than I had ever imagined.  After I joined, countless women came out of hiding to share with me their own stories of pain and loss.  Young women who had suffered miscarriages in recent years.  Women who had lost grown children.  Women who had lost children many, many years before, and who had never told a single soul, because well, “in those days we just didn’t’ talk about these things”.   All of us in the same club, filled with a sorrow and sense of loss that only we can fully understand.   It didn’t matter if the loss was days or decades old, the wounds were still there.   I quickly learned that while the pain dulls, and the wounds scab over, they never fully heal.  Each and every time another mother experiences this unique loss, the scabs are torn open and the wound is once again exposed.

These women, the club members, gave me strength.  I understood that I was not alone.  I never wanted to be a member of this club, but I am very grateful for the support of those who have been there.  Not because we didn’t have support from others.  We did.  We were flooded with support.  I am eternally grateful for the group of friends and family who were there, and continue to be there for us, who are not club members.  They “get” it too, just on a different level. 
Very recently a new member was initiated to the club.   It is my turn to be a support to this beautiful soul, mourning the loss of her son.   It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last, and I never quite know what to say.  There are no words to take the pain away, but I can listen and pray, and I can share my own experience.  It helps to know that you are not alone and that others have traveled the same road, carrying the same cross that you now bear. 

God is great and brings good out of every evil, and the loss of a child is no exception.  There is hope for all club members.  We just have to trust in God’s Perfect Plan and know that He can take our suffering and turn it into something more beautiful than we can ever imagine.  I like to imagine our baby playing in the arms of The Blessed Mother. She, who is the perfect mother.  She, who was there at the foot of the cross.   She, who knows so intimately the pain of losing a child.  She, who is the original club member.  Perhaps when you think of it that way, it is an honor to be a member of the club.

                                                Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Giant Piles of Laundry

I don’t know what Monday morning looks like in other homes, but in ours it’s a little crazy.  Each week without fail, I find myself facing a giant mountain of laundry, dishes that have piled up, and a house that is in desperate need of being tidied.  Last night as I rolled around trying to get to sleep I was bombarded with more than the usual dose of anxiety when contemplating all that would need to be accomplished in the coming days.  I knew for certain that due to our 2 week camp out in the basement while our floors were refinished , my laundry mountain was going to be even higher than usual.  I was worrying so much that I was starting to feel sick.  This is nothing new for me, but what happened next was new.  Instead of rolling around for a few more hours I simply prayed.  I did what I have been told to do so many times, and what I have told others to do so many times.  I told Jesus all of my worries, all of my fears, and then I just listened.  I’ve done plenty of the “telling Jesus” part before, but it’s the second part, the listening, that I have trouble with.  This time, by the grace of God, I listened, and He answered.  The answer was simple.  Just do it.  Do one little thing at a time.  So there it was, a simple solution, followed by peace and sleep.  This morning when I woke up and it was time to face the monstrous heap of laundry, I dug right in, and I felt good.  While my laundry room still looks like I need to do laundry, the piles are of normal size now, and it is easy to see how simple living out God’s plan really can be.  He is not asking for huge things to be done and certainly not all at once.  He is simply asking us to do all the little things that He gives us in our day to day vocation, and to do them well and with joy.  When we look at the laundry, the piles of dishes, and the to-do lists He wants us to see them as opportunities to show our love for Him.  He wants us to be humble and realize that without Him we can accomplish nothing, but with Him we can do all things.  He doesn’t give up on us when He sees how much work needs to be done in our souls.  Instead, He waits patiently for each and every opportunity we give Him to shape and mold us into the persons He created us to be.  I realized today that I am God’s giant mountain of laundry. 


Monday, September 19, 2011

He is Always There

I am a convert.  Not just the kind of convert that used to be a good Protestant and is now a good  Catholic, but the other kind.  You know, the kind whose old friends look at the new me with skepticism and whose new friends have trouble believing that I was "really THAT bad".  For a long time after conversion (when I say conversion I mean the initial conversion...we are all constantly converting) I wondered why I had chosen to drift so far away from God.  I asked, "Where WAS He?" and "Why didn't I know?".  The truth is He was always there.  I was just choosing to look the other way.  I did not want to see Him.  He was there with sadness in His eyes when I rebelled against my parents.  He was there hoping I would not take that first drink.  He was there every step of the way trying to breakthrough to me.  I didn't listen.  I chose not to see Him.  I chose not to hear Him.  I threw Him aside, but He never gave up on me.  In His eyes I was still the little girl gazing at the crucifix on her grandmother's wall.  He saw and still sees in my heart the beauty that no one else can see.  He sees and waits patiently for me, and for all of us, to give Him bits and pieces to work with...molding us into the persons He created us to be.  There are a million things that I wish I could change about my past, but the truth is, if I hadn't come from the stench of sin that I was bathing in, I don't think I would have the same appreciation for all He has already done and continues to do for me, and for all of us.  Wherever we are, He is always there waiting for a simple glance in His direction.  With that glance, He can touch our hearts in ways we can't even imagine. 

Edited to add this song, which pretty much sums it up: