It's been almost a year now since this little girl made her grand entrance. I was so eager to see her sweet face and kiss her tiny feet - and today she is walking and talking and playing with toys. Pardon the old cliche but... it goes so fast. Takes my breath away.
I promised myself I would never be one of those old ladies who tut tut's over young moms and repeats those tired phrases. I'm already breaking that promise. I see the pretty mamas at the back of the church, overwhelmed and frustrated by the little fussing people charged to their care.
Don't blink, mama... it goes fast. You'll wish you had these precious years back someday.
They give me that look. I know that look because I've given it. It says: Yes, nice old lady. Blah, blah, blah. Now please step aside so that I can find a changing table and pick the mushy fish crackers out of my hair.
And then there's this guy who is getting ready to leave the nest....
His head and heart are yearning for more. He loves us, I know... but God made him to move on. And he's feeling that pull. It doesn't seem to make him particularly sad but I feel my heart break a little each time he stretches. He wants to go to college early. He asked and we gave a conditional yes. My yes went up and my heart sank down, down, down to my toes. It weighed me down for a few days. He tells me not to be sad because he'll be back... but I know better. We all know that even when we come back things are... different.
He was the first to enter my homeschool. He'll be the first one to leave it. Then one by one, they'll all fly...
Between my littlest and my biggest there are a few more gorgeous little souls. And one special little guy who took a piece of my heart when he left for glory. He was only 2-inches long in my hand but his soul... ah... just bigger than I can embrace. I still think of him as my littlest one... but he would be four now and a big brother to two siblings.
Today is his birthday.
His silent, lonely little birthday. Four years ago, I quietly bled and waited for him. I felt labor pains and the hours passed by in a surreal blur. Taking care of my kids...
losing my baby
... planning lunch...
losing my baby
... talking on the phone...
losing my baby.
And then, after the part of labor that steals breath and courage from even brave mothers... it was over. One minute he was safe within and the next, well, he was safe forever. I cannot complain about that since it is what I desire for all of my children. But I think of him and miss him.
He is Matthew. He is mine. And he lives.
I weep and laugh alternately. My arms ache to hold him but then I think of our meeting someday and I am consoled through my tears.
I wanted to see his little grave today. Such a beautiful day! At home, I lost confidence in my ability to find his plot in that big cemetery and so I did a grave search online. I tried different searches and could not find him anywhere. My heart started to pound and tears sprang to my eyes.
I cannot find him.
So I did a general google search and nothing came up. Nothing. I couldn't find Matthew. And I didn't have the courage to go to the huge cemetery and look without finding.
I know it's not completely rational. Why would an internet search hold power over my heart? He doesn't care that his name isn't recorded on the internet. He doesn't care that we didn't go to visit his tiny grave today. But I couldn't find my little one and it hurt so badly.
The Chief is going to take me to the cemetery this week and we will, of course, find the spot with relative ease. We know how to find it. I wish that my humanity did not need such consolations. I wish that I could just rejoice in my baby's happiness. What is it about a motherhood that must break not only over sorrows but also over our joys?
When I was a young mother and a new-ish practicing Catholic, I didn't like the devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows. I was turned off by her blue and weeping countenance. I felt young and secure and those depictions were depressing and reminded me of great-grandmothers and doilies and their mysterious dusty, antiquated version of religion. I don't remember the day that changed but, at some point, I learned to love that image of Our Lady. She is beautiful. She is courageous in love. She shows us how to walk in grief and trial with grace and beauty. And I depend on her.
One way or another, I am going to be separated from all of my children. For a time. Please God, only for a time. Until then, my heart will continue to break off into little pieces on this earthly journey. I am counting on Blessed Mother to help me sweep them up and present them to the Lord. He'll know what to do with them.
Thanks be to God.