Arrived

Vacation in itself is an wonderful adventure. Exploring a new place, the people, shops, restaurants, scenery…and for me the church. Might be a bit quirky, but I love to attend Sunday Mass away from home. Like a child on Christmas morning, I am filled with anticipation. Will the congregation be welcoming, what will the church look like, will the priest be funny, incense over powering the classic wood smell, singing, no singing, crowded, empty, one collection/two, and so on.

We all piled into the trusted minivan and headed to St. Edmonds Catholic Church in Rehoboth Beach for the 10:30 mass. After a few cocktails the night prior and a 1-year-old who didn’t feel his pack and play was a suitable accomodation..10:30 this morning came quite quickly. John dropped us off and three generations of Kings entered the church.

Packed to capacity, we found a nice comfy spot in the back with a stand alone kneeler. The gracious ushers were quick to make sure we were comfortable. Just as Mass was about to begin, a blue clad blazer-wearing usher made eye cotact and headed our way. He asked if myself and the 3 girls (Ruby, Molly and my nice Isabella would bring up the gifts). To say the girls were excited was an understatemnt. To me, this spoke volumes about St. Edmond’s.  Obviously we were not parishioners, and likely a weekly renter, yet they chose us to bring to the altar the most important aspect of what makes a Catholic Mass different from so many others. Fast forward….the girls did fabulous. Johnny boy saw us walking down and with a grab of the hand, joined the procession up to the altar.

Mass was sprinkled with jokes and rooted in prayer. It spoke about having faith. As Fr. Cocco so eloquently said in the bulliten…”Only if we put all we have and all we are into Christ’s hands, confiding in him and not ourselves, can we hope to fulfill our life mission and make a real difference for the good of the Kingdom—in our hearts and in society at large”. These are the words I needed to sink into my soul today.

See, when we were gearing up to book this vacay months and months ago, I was pregnant. Actually I was due to deliver about a week and a half after we got home. My mom was less than pleased that I would be vacationing so close to my due date. I imagined my plump belly soaking in the sun of Rehoboth. Yet today I stood at the back of the church wondering why this beautiful vision was not allowed to become part of my story. Instead I stand there longing for what I dd not have. Questioning how I could have had so many miscarriages and not so much the “Why Me” but rather because it was me…what can I do to help others. Do I have the”poor me’s”, I do! It is also so painful that no one even realizes in a mere few days, another baby would have joined our beautiful clan.

I so needed this mass. I needed to hear the words…”God gives you what you need, not what you want” from the altar this sunny Sunday morning. I did not interpret the priests words as a message that God did not want me to be a mother again and deal with such heartache alone, but rather that he is calling me. He has my roadmap of life in his hands and I need to get on board.

Just as mass was wrapping up, from my purse came a loud, “ARRIVED”. Roughly 45 minutes ago, I had GPS’ed the way to St. Edmonds. I had turned off my volume and knew that we were where we needed to be, physically. Yet in that moment, I feel God sent me my sign that I had spiritually arrived and by trusting in him and realizing his plan my soul will be nourished. With this nourishment, I will be able to do for others and use my heartbreak to ease their pain. This is where my true healing will begin! Thank you St. Edmond’s for not only welcoming these out of towners but allowing my soul to finally arrive!

 

Sadness in 6 words

A whole genre dedicated to stories comprised of only 6 words…oh my! A story? How could emotion, fright, happiness, love, deceit, etc. be conveyed in six simple words. Yet, once I read a few of these stories, I too was hooked. I realized that emotions and events can be told in letters strung together that create six words which tug at the heartstrings.

To recount history, or some will say urban legend, Hemingway was at lunch with friends when he bet that he could pen a story in 6 words. As men tend to do, a challenge was set…it was on! The pot grew and quickly from pen to paper came these words…For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” It was if I had been punched in the gut. Those 6 words screamed heartache, life lost, intense sadness.

It is an urban legend because some say that Hemingway was not the first person to write a story in 6 words or even this 6 word story, per se. Yet, it was these 6 words that always remained with me. I thought about this mother, the shoes the baby would have worn, the father that worked hard to earn the money for, what might have been, a luxury, the siblings that would have helped tie those shoes and the beautiful first steps the baby would have taken in shoes that would now never be worn but rather sold.

Several years ago, my sweet almost 5 year old, was in the back of the car as we were driving by St. Raymond’s Cemetery in my hometown. It is where many, if not all, of my family find their final resting place. It is expansive and through a child’s eyes must go on for miles and miles. Headstone after headstone with flowers adorning many of the ornate structures.  At this time, we had recently lost yet another pregnancy. This pregnancy was different though…or so we thought. Our numbers were great, the baby was measuring appropriately, heartbeat was strong…we believed this time would be different. We had the confidence to sit the kids down and share this great news. There were happy tears and hopes of a sister and one hold out for a brother.

Within days, sadness struck. We had lost the baby. What had we done??? We told our children that God had given mommy and daddy a baby and now we would need to tell them that the baby was gone. To put it mildly…it sucked! The long term repercussions were devastating. Most days were good but at night during prayers there were so many questions about the baby, why the baby wasn’t coming, where is the baby, who is caring for the baby, is the baby with Tiger the cat, why did Tiger die, does Jesus pet Tiger…the list could go on. At times, the question and answer challenge was comical. I’m attempting to hold it together and not to become a blubbering mess in front of my kids and next thing we’re taking about whether our deceased cat is eating yummy food and getting along with birds. Yet when you can barely figure it out as an adult, you know there must be so much confusion…and a myriad of questions…for a little one.

So a we drove past the cemetery on that blue skied day with billowing white clouds, I heard “momma”. Anyone with kids or who have ever been in the presence of a child for more than two minutes, knows that they can rattle off about 3 million questions within the lifespan of a Mayfly…sometimes without coming up for air!

From the backseat, my Ruby asked/told her six word memoir that had been weighing heavy on her mind… “Does our baby have a stone.” Instant tears, I actually whispered to my husband that he would need to momentarily field this question. Did our baby have a stone? No, our baby didn’t have a stone. We did not leave the hospital with our bundle. We asked that our doctor use the holy water we brought to bless our baby but our baby would never have a burial or a stone. Yet how do you put this into words for a little girl who is obviously hurting herself? We needed her to know that this baby was so loved yet there was no stone.

Loss is earth shattering difficult. There are good days and bad. Times you feel that you can conquer the world, while other moments you want to snuggle up and hope a nap will take away some of the sadness. As a mom, I don’t have the answers. I rely on my faith to teach my children and hope they will understand. I tried my best to come back with a light response to her six word memoir…but I’m sure I failed miserably. I know that our children will one day be adults and realize that we never had all the answers. We did our best to ease their pain and explain life in their words on their terms! So my sweet Ruby, in response to your profound 6 words that will always remain the most memorable memoir, our baby might not have a stone in St. Raymond’s Cemetery but she will always be safely kept in our hearts.

love at first sight

stack of love wooden blocks

Every woman is different. Every experience is unique. Yet as we gather here…our outcomes are the same. We lost a baby! Lord, its hard to even type those words. Whether it was 8 days, 8 weeks or 8 months…we lost a little being that was growing inside of us. The little life that captured all our love the instant we knew.

When I hear “love at first sight”…don’t tell…but I don’t think of my hubby. Sure I thought he as handsome with his premature gray hair and baby blues but I wasn’t head over heals in love right away. Our love grew, developed and evolved. We got to know one another over Coronas and Coors Lts. and eventually realized life together would be a rollercoaster we wanted to ride again and again.

Yet, the minute I saw a second pink line slowly appear on my pregnancy test…I was in love…crazy love. My mind went a million places. I thought about the snuggles, smiles, a boy/girl, crib, car seat, new car, names, telling family, what they were like right at that moment, the future kicks that would feel like butterflies…you name it, I thought about it! Before I even got off the potty…my mind was swirling with the hopes and dreams that were captured within this magical device that predicted out future…our pregnancy test had two pick lines.

Ironically, when you talk to medical personal…conversations sound like this. When was your LMP? Your HCG is (fill in the blank). Your progesterone is (again fill in the blank but we all know we hoped for a solid number). You are measuring…your baby is measuring. Your numbers are doubling/your numbers are not doubling. The list can go on. Yet, numbers, tests, bloodwork, sonograms can not show the love I already had in my heart.

So sadly, that magical device could not predict in days, weeks, or months your heart would feel like it was being ripped out of your chest. That the sadness you felt would seem crushing at times. That the simple act of inhaling and exhaling would prove to be a challenge on the toughest of days. That tears would flow in the shower, your car, as you lay yourself down to sleep, driving, etc.  That you would question why God hated you so much and what a horrible person you must be for this to happen to you…again and again.

With all matters of the heart, what is put to paper can never truly explain what is in your heart. Experiencing the joy of being pregnant to only be replaced by the sadness of losing a baby, is such a cross to bare. Yet as mothers we do! Not only do we carry this cross but we survive. We learn how to breath again, while knowing that we have experienced love at first sight.