(This was written on November 19th)
Today, I have experienced God's joy and suffering all at once.
But the story begins about 3 weeks ago when my daughter Zelie approached me and said, "Mommy, you are kind of taking a break from babies." I responded, "I guess I kind of am." "Well, that break is going to be over in a couple days." And by golly, she was right!
I always love the excitement of the first few weeks of pregnancy. Announcing it to friends and family is one of my favorite things to do and thinking about how this little baby will fit into our family, home, etc. before I start feeling sick is lovely. When we told our daughter Zelie, she immediately looked at my belly and said, "Ohhhh! She's sooooo cute!" and as I would be heading out the door telling my children to be good, Zelie would run up and pat my belly saying, "You be good little cutie!" It was so much fun to have a child who completely understood the concept of a baby and a new sibling (obviously a sister in her mind).
This child, living within the protection and comfort of my womb, was my sixth miracle. God has blessed me so much!
And God blessed me today by taking this child, Gabriella Mary, to Heaven.
How can a child who has only existed for maybe a month, and who's existence you've only known about for a couple weeks, whom you've never seen, touched, listened to, held or kissed have such a hold on your heart already? I'm in love with this little baby. Madly in love.
So, today when I cry, I have to remind myself that my tears are really tears of sorrow for myself and my family because we are thinking about all the things that we wanted and will never have (this side of Heaven). Zelie cried for awhile and would say, "I just want her back. I want my baby back!" How this broke my heart! So, it was easy to cry for Zelie's pain. But, how can I cry for Gabriella? What a beautiful life she has had! To be created and wake up in Heaven seems like the best life I can imagine. And as a mother, there is such a joy and a relief in knowing that I have accomplished in this child what I want for all my children...to make it to Heaven.
One thing that I have learned from my faith and NFP is that life begins at conception. This video helps show it. But, not only that, it's such a miracle. Today, I look at each of my children here on earth and realize what a tremendous gift each of them are to me and that God has been so generous. I think about my three children in Heaven and smile at the thought of them running into the arms of Jesus and asking Him to watch over their family here on earth (I know I'm biased, but how could Jesus resist such sweet, innocent babies?) I think about how not only are our children a product of the love between my husband and I, but are a materialization of our love. They are love itself. I am so incredibly blessed!
So, one might ask (as my husband and I have been thinking all day), why? Why did we conceive just to miscarry a few weeks later. Besides the above mentioned reasons, it's really beyond me. Maybe we needed an extra intercessor in Heaven, but I think there's another reason. God is giving us the gift of sharing in His suffering. A friend of mine recently told me this analogy that she had heard. God doesn't need us to suffer so that we can be redeemed, but He allows us to participate so that we may share in His act of love. For instance, a mother can easily bake a cake without her child helping. In fact, she can do it perfectly on her own without spilling, being efficient and quick. But, her child says, "I want to help you mommy. I want to be a part of it. I want to share this experience with you." So, the mother allows her child to be a part of the process and patiently guides the child and shows them the way to do it. Jesus is allowing us to be a part of His suffering, not because it will make it more perfect, but because He loves us and wants us to be a part of it all.
I will leave you with a few quotes from people who can say what I'm trying to say much more eloquently:
"It is a great honor to you who are married that God, in His design to multiply souls who may bless and praise Him for all eternity, causes you to co-operate with Him in so noble a work." - St. Francis de Sales
"Jesus' mission is expressed in the language of love. Indeed, the Sacrifice of the Cross is wholly wrapped in love; and from it draws its most profound meaning." - Pope John Paul II, Homily, Sept. 14, 1986
"Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces a steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." - James 1:2-4
"There is needed a patient effort to teach people, or teach them once more, how to savor in a simple way the many human joys that the Creator places in our path: the elating joy of existence and of life; the joy of chaste and sanctified love; the peaceful joy of nature and silence; the sometimes austere joy of work well done; the joy and satisfaction of duty performed; the transparent joy of purity, service and sharing; the demanding joy of sacrifice." - Pope Paul VI, On Christian Joy