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Posts Tagged ‘Faith’

Dearest Little One,

It has been a month and a day since that moment that my heart must have stopped beating for what then seemed like an eternity.  I had been happily recounting to the lady in the room about your siblings and how crazy-happy it is at home with all eight of them.  I really think I might have gone on and on telling her about the family if I hadn’t noticed the heavy silence that seemed to grow in weight by the second.  I closed my eyes then in a vain and half-hearted effort to close out what I could sense was happening.

You see, sweet one, this lady in the room could not seem to find a heartbeat.  For you.  It should have been there, quite obvious for her to see.  But it wasn’t.  Neither was it there two and a half weeks later.  In between these two times, I must have cried enough tears to tire me out completely.  But there were always tears just at the surface, ready to fall almost without missing a beat.  A heartbeat.  I missed your heartbeat.

Little tiddlywink, I want you to know that in the short time you were safely alive in my womb, I loved you.  I still do.  And your daddy loved you.  And so did your three sisters and five brothers.  They could not stop talking about how excited they were about you!  (Personally, I think they would have eventually taken bets on whether you would be a boy or a girl, to be honest with you….)  They’re a crazy bunch, your siblings.  I am so happy that you were a part of the family for that time you were here on earth with me.  And of course you still are a part of the family — just apart from us for now. A Crazy Bunch

Sweetness, I want you to know that if you had continued to live and had been born, you would have been welcomed with open arms into a family that loved you from the first moment we knew you were there.  You are not the first that has gone before us.  There are two older siblings of yours that went the same way — early on in their lives in my womb.  They too were anticipated, mourned, prayed for and are still loved.  And your siblings all pray for them still.  They still pray for you.  We all do.

I do not know where you are, wee one, but wherever it is, I know you are in good hands.  I cannot pretend to be happy that you are not with me, but I am happy that God blessed us with you.  And because I trust in His mercy and in His love, I know you are in good hands.  I know that you are not alone, nor are you lonely.  Before I met you, before I loved you, God already did.  A friend told me recently that crying can be good because it empties the tear ducts and allows us to smile even better.  I believe that.  In this my sorrow, I have found a deeper joy because of you.

My dear baby, you have allowed me to share the good news of your anticipated coming to family and friends.  Your presence gave me a chance to be in awe of how wonderfully made the human body is.  The knowledge of your presence has helped to reinforce my commitment to be generous with our Father God.  I faced the temptation of feeling embarrassed that I was expecting again and fought it because I knew that you were a blessing and not a burden.  How could you have ever been a problem to a family whose faith has been tested over and over again in so very many ways?  You were a gift — a sure and real sign of hope! — and we were grateful.

Because of you, my little treasure, I cherish each of your siblings even more.  I look at each of them and am thankful for each little one that has come into our family.  You accomplished and inspired so much good in your short life — thank you!  I look forward to the moment that I can finally hold you in my arms for the first time.  For now, I hold you in each prayer I say.  My heart will skip a beat at the thought of you and you will remind me to be happy.  You remind me of why I am grateful to be a mother.

We won’t say good-bye, small fry.  Until we can be together, we will for now just say good night.

I love you always.

Mom

For hope to be real, it has to go deeper than the wound and be more substantial than the pain that has caused you to be in that position you are in.  Hope has to be that much broader and that more powerful to be real, because otherwise it is just like a band-aid.”
— Jon Foreman (Switchfoot), interview regarding film “Bella”, DVD (2008).

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On Wednesday, June 4th, I set off on a spiritual journey to a home that I’d never been:  the shrine of Our Lady of Torreciudad in Spain. Santuario de Torreciudad

It was clear from the get-go that this was no ordinary trip.  It certainly was not a vacation or a holiday jaunt to some quaint European village.  With my husband’s full support and encouragement, I gave each of my children tight, tight hugs and motherly kisses and reminded them to be good especially to each other and their dad.  I had cooked enough food for two armies and knew that — at the very least — they would not go hungry while I was away.  It was hardest to part, albeit temporarily, from my then nine-month old baby.  I knew he would be fine.  My husband assured me he would be fine and certainly he was a man of great experience with babies.  (You’d have to be after eight, you know.) So I found myself walking away, pulling on two suitcases beside me and willing myself not to break into tears at the airport.  (I so do not like good-byes at airports……) My pilgrimage had begun.

The thing with pilgrimages is that the element of some sacrifice is necessary.  No, no….I’m not talking about anything gory.  A pilgrim is one who takes a journey to a sacred place for religious reasons, according to the Oxford American online dictionary.  We’re not talking eat-all-you-can buffets at all-inclusive resorts where the party doesn’t end when the sun rises.  A pilgrimage concerns the soul and things of the spiritual life.  But while we are alive and our body and soul are still united, it is very easy for things that attract and relate to the senses to overwhelm the spirit, making it take a backseat to all the wonderful things that give us loads of pleasure.  For those who go on a pilgrimage, we need to be aware of this and make an effort to really be attuned to what our soul needs and is asking for.  So when I talk about sacrifice I mean the little things that maybe don’t seem like such a big deal but do go a long way into raising the level of our spiritual awareness because we’ve made the effort to deny ourselves a little bit of comfort or pleasure.

Why am I telling you all this?  Well, my whole trip lasted from June 4th to the 14th, but my pilgrimage really started way before I even left my home for the airport.  I had cooked like a fiend the weekend before I left.  Our refrigerator was bursting with so much food.  I spent the better part of the night before I left packing, trying to make sure I did not look some tourist who’s just looking for some souvenir trinkets.  A friend had told me, as a bit of advice, that Europeans tend to dress elegantly — and I took it to heart, of course!  (Ladies, listen up:  Pilgrimage does not equal sloppy dressing.) I managed to send off some emails and toyed with idea of posting an entry on my blog — which didn’t happen in the end because by then I was so tired and just wanted to snuggle up to this little baby in my arms that I was not going to be with for the next ten days.  When I finally sat down to wait for my flight to board passengers, I was tired, wired (read: over-caffeinated) and just anxious to get the ball rolling so I could come back home already.  I had to remind myself of why I was on this trip to begin with.

It was not for sight-seeing or shopping, although these happened to be a small part of my experience.  It was not for wont of something to do because I had many things to do at home.  It was not for the thrill of something exciting, although I was certainly tickled pink to be going.  It was not a trip made on a whim with some extra money stashed away — neither existed.  It was not to get away from my family because I was tired of them — I was tired but loved being with them.  I could think of several reasons why I shouldn’t go given my circumstances.  But a pilgrimage is never convenient, never very neat, tidy and oh-so-pretty.  It doesn’t make sense to go on one if you do not believe in matters of a spiritual nature because it lacks appeal for those whose purpose is pleasure.

It did, however, make sense to someone like me who does believe that our souls need a lot of tender loving care.  I felt myself called by my Father to a journey that would help change my life forever:  as a wife and a mother, as a friend, as a neighbour.  I went to Spain — to Torreciudad — to claim without merit what was being freely given to me:  a stronger faith, a more fervent hope and the love of my Father in my heart and soul.

Nuestra Senora de TorreciudadAnd so my pilgrimage to Torreciudad has ended, but the bigger one that we are constantly on while on earth goes on.  Life continues for us here:  the family survived my absence with flying colours, thanks to my extremely capable and super husband and children.  It is as normal as normal ever gets in our family.  But there is a glimmer of something that wasn’t there before, or perhaps just needed some encouragement.  I find that I can take refuge, during slightly trying or even very trying times, in a little place inside of me where my mother, Our Lady of Torreciudad, has taken up residence.

Over the next few weeks, I will tell you stories of my experiences during my trip and hope that you too are encouraged to take care of your own spiritual needs, not just on special occasions but everyday.  Finally, know that I prayed for you, dear reader of my blog, whether you are known to me or not.  I prayed to my sweet Mother in heaven and to my Father that you would hopefully get something helpful — something good — from having read what I post on my blog.  And if there was nothing of use this time — well, I still prayed for you.  And prayer is the currency of hope.

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feb-19-1994.jpgIt has been five thousand one hundred and thirteen days since I walked down the aisle on my father’s arm to take the hand of the man whom I vowed to love till death do us part. I used the calculator to come up with that number, figuring in the fact that we’ve been through 3 leap years, this year being the fourth. Wow. Do you want it in hours? Well then, we’re talking 122,712 hours that my husband and I have been married…..at least, given that by the time you read this blog entry, a few more hours would have passed. Let’s be a bit silly: do you know how many minutes we’ve been married? Seven million, three hundred sixty-two and seven hundred twenty minutes — at least. And I cannot stop myself from breaking into a smile whenever I think about it because what an adventure it has been!

central-park-1993.jpgWhen two people first fall in love, the thought of spending their whole lives together can make them giddy with joy. There’s all these wonderful images of spending days on end laughing, looking into each other’s eyes and living happily ever after. Everything is possible; the world is a beautiful place to be in. When we first started dating, Mike (my husband) and I used to meet up at Central Park in New York for lunch — the homemade kind. He would bring sandwiches and bottles of water for each of us, and we would sit at a bench during my hour’s break. What a thrill it was for me to be able to spend an hour with the one person who made my heart beat faster and the butterflies in my tummy go haywire! Looking back, I tease my husband now about how “economical” our dates had been. He just smiles at me, knowing that the memories of these inexpensive dates are priceless. And I know he’s right.

In these fourteen years that Mike and I have been married, it hasn’t all been laughter and starry-eyed gazes between us. Far from it, in fact. There has been a lot of laughter, yes: the jokes only we understand, the stories we tell each other, the sense of humour that has developed because of circumstance and need. There have also been tears and angry words, at times. There have been good times and bad times, none of which I would change. Each moment we have spent together has only served to make use stronger and know each other better. Each moment we’ve had to be physically apart has been a reminder of how much we need each other and want to be together. It has not been happily ever after, but rather joyfully together.

It is an adventure Mike and I embarked on fourteen years ago, and it has been nothing short of spectacular. It would be a lie to tell you that we have a perfect life because we don’t. There have been moments of worry and anxiety, but also moments of gratitude for every single thing we have been blessed with. It is unrealistic to think that there is a blueprint for marriage because every couple that gets married is different from any other. Two people who promise to spend the rest of their lives together, whatever happens to them, have to work with what they both have….and don’t have. A man and a woman get married for better and for worse, and they become one. They are one, not forsaking their individuality but living a life together of singular purpose and motivation. They become, for each other, the highest priority and more important person in the world. And this does not contradict the love and care we have for our children. In fact, the best thing a husband and wife can do is to love each other and show their children they do. Children take strength, great comfort and happiness in knowing that these two very important people in their lives love each other.

And we — Mike and I — take a great amount of strength and perseverance from our faith. It has kept us and keeps us going even when the odds are against us or, humanly speaking, it seems impossible to do anything more. It helps us to say sorry faster, forgive quicker, to take each day that comes with a great deal of hope and trust. It is what moves us to accept and recognize our marriage for what it really is: a vocation.

So today, please keep us in your prayers and help us thank God for what we have been blessed with and with what He continues to bless us. We count each of our children (the eight who are alive and the two who were with us only for a short time in my womb) as blessings that keep on giving. And from this day on, we look forward to many more adventures we will be sharing together.

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The Up-side of Down Time

I went to bed last night with a plan. I was going to get up on time and not hit the snooze button. I was going to get an early start to my day and do all sorts of things. Wonderful, important things. I was going to have the energy of the Energizer bunny!

Of course, I did not count on my three-year old waking up with a fever, restless and crying at 2 AM. And I didn’t count on the little baby waking up with a fever as well at about 3 AM. Neither did I figure on not being able to go back to sleep right away. Sigh. And so my day started out groggily, kind of fuzzy actually. My cup of java helped me to get through a slightly sluggish morning. My day has been anything but “according to plan”.

Like a lot people, I think having a plan is great. You know what you have to do, where you have to go, any time constraints, etc. There is a certain sense of control over life. And then — life shrugs its shoulders and things are thrown off kilter. We are reminded that, in fact, we are not in total control of everything.

Rather than make us feel scared, or upset, the knowledge that we are not in control of everything should serve to free us from having to worry ourselves willy-nilly. There are just certain things we cannot do anything about. Mind you, I am not being fatalistic. I believe in giving or doing my best, as if everything depended on my efforts. I believe in trying again if I fail the first time in something. But I also believe that if things do not work out as planned, it is for reasons more important than what I know or understand at that time. In the end, I know things work out for the good — for what is best.

dscn0481.jpgAs I type away on the keyboard, my 3-year old daughter is alternately resting her head on my lap and looking at the computer monitor. She still looks tired. No one has any fever now, but there is a lot of sniffling, sneezing and coughing going on in the house. (Quite obviously, a bug has taken up residence in our home.) My hope is the children will get better soon. Really soon. I hope my husband doesn’t get sick. I hope I don’t get sick! (My patients need me!!) But if things don’t go according to plan — as they often times don’t — then I will chalk it up to a chance for some down time with the family. It simply means my child needs me to get her milk, hold her hand, or feed her more soup. My energies are needed more in certain endeavours, and not necessarily what I deemed to be top priorities at first.

Whatever the reason may be, the change in plans will not be the end of the world. Life happens. I’ll deal with it.

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