Once upon a time, there was a lady. For a very long time, the lady, who did not believe in magic, did not want to have babies. But slowly, over many years, the lady witnessed strange things in her life. She came to see the strange things as threads in her existence, strands woven together by an unseen and powerful Magic. She became a believer in the Maker of such intricate, beautiful, and heartbreaking tapestries.
One day, a new magical thing happened. The lady and her husband suddenly wanted a family. Soon, the lady was expecting a baby. She was thankful that such Magical things had become a part of her life. She was very happy.
But then a sad thing happened. The baby left her mother and father and went to heaven far too soon. The lady and her husband were in mourning.
Eventually, they tried again, but their next baby left them too soon as well. The lady asked the Magic why It had offered her such gifts only to take them away. There was silence for a very long time.
She was frightened and sad, but she knew she must trust the Magic. After all, had it not been that very Magic that had given her the desire for children in the first place?
When she found that she was expecting again, she dared to hope and her hope was rewarded. A beautiful daughter was born to the lady. And then another gift -- another daughter -- was given. There was great rejoicing.
The lady and her husband loved their two daughters so much that they hoped for a third child. But when they lost another baby ... and then another ... and then another ... the lady gave up all hope. The tapestry of her dream was in tatters.
But one day a miracle happened. The lady gave birth to one more beautiful baby.
Eight years later, with her husband and her three daughters at her side, the lady had the privilege of participating in a Holy Mass of Remembrance* for all lost children. There, she, her family, other parents, grandparents, and friends, remembered their beloved children. Tears were shed. Sublime music was played and sung. Holy priests presided, offering comfort and prayers to many. Together, all present gave thanks for the gift of life, in all its stages. They gave thanks to and for the life-giving Magic, whose name is Jesus Christ. They received His Body and Blood, and they rested in the knowledge that He is a good and merciful God. They entrusted the souls of their lost children to His divine care.
Then they had coffee, and juice, and cookies in the basement.
And the lady gave thanks one more time to the Magic for His many ineffable gifts, not the least of which are babies in Heaven and on earth, the awful beauty of shared grief, loving priests, and Altar Society ladies who provide cookies.
* Special thanks to my friend, R. Sadly, she had a miscarriage last year. An initial conversation with Fr. S. led to more talks, then J. joined them, and then I did, too. And now we've begun "the Hannah Ministry" which we hope will offer comfort and care to grieving parents. Saturday morning was our first Holy Mass of Remembrance.
"She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly."
~~ 1 Samuel 1:10
(Photo credit: The Fairy Tale Door, by David Masters.)