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Ink Slingers Mary P.

Four Reasons I’m Welcoming a Fourth Baby

Four Reasons I’m Welcoming a Fourth Baby

 

I came out on Facebook last week. Came out as practically-a-Duggar, that is.  More specifically, I revealed that I am having a fourth baby by posting my 20 week ultrasound picture. In my real-life social circle, four children does not a large family make. In fact, families with “just” four or fewer are in the minority. However, out there in the greater society (and in Facebook land), it’s a whole different story. Even having three, my husband has received many comments at work about his “many” children. Four definitely seems to be past the line in the sand between “sane” and “insane” these days. There are many out there who just can’t understand why on earth anyone would want that many children.  Some days I even ask myself why. Children are needy, and loud, and messy, and they interrupt my grand plans for my day, and my life. Children require sacrifice. Why would anyone want to sacrifice so much?

Truthfully, I don’t want to sacrifice. I think if I were holier, I would. But as it stands, the sacrifices are carried out begrudgingly most days. So, then, why am I having another child who is going to demand so much of me, and seemingly give back so little? It’s not because I’m insane (although I might be). And it’s certainly not because I enjoy being pregnant. Here are some of the real reasons:

  1. Children actually “give back” a lot more than we give them credit for. Sure, there are days when I feel like all they are doing is taking from me, but those are just feelings, unreflective of reality. My children give me so much. They give me kisses and hugs when I’m sad or not feeling well. They give me countless reasons to smile and laugh with their adorableness, and even their maddening antics. They give me perspective on what really matters in life. They give me lessons in how to get to Heaven, with their innocence, purity-of-heart, and quickly-offered forgiveness. They give me unconditional love. (Seriously, who else on earth loves as purely and unconditionally as children do?!) Perhaps most importantly, they give me opportunities to die to myself and become more like Christ. All those sacrifices they require of me? Those are—paradoxically—gifts, when looked at the right way. A life of comfort and self-indulgence is not a life that would bring me closer to Jesus and Heaven.
  2. Each of our children is unique and non-repeatable. Some people think that once you have a boy and a girl, any other children would be redundant. But, having four children is not like having four televisions. They are not objects, which can render one another superfluous. Each child brings his or her own unique personality and gifts to the family and the world. Each has an individual purpose and calling, and every life —no matter how short-lived— has a ripple effect. Our hope and goal is that each of our children will make the world a better place, while winning souls for Christ. So far, each of them certainly has made our home a better place. 
  3. Siblings are a gift. I have six brothers and sisters. Growing up in a large family was not always easy or enjoyable. But I was always grateful for my siblings. They were my built-in friends, and they taught me about life and love. They still do. Siblings fight and make mischief together, teaming up to make their parents’ lives difficult at times. But the love among them is stronger than all of that. My children are so excited for another sibling. It’s rare to hear of any children among the families we know who aren’t excited when their mothers are going to have another baby. A new child multiplies the love in the home, rather than taking love from other children. 
  4. God called us to. I know this sounds silly to the non-believers out there, but hopefully fellow Christians can understand this point. My husband and I don’t believe that our lives are our own, to live strictly according to our own wills; we believe in seeking God’s will in all we do. Sometimes His will seems to align with what we want, what makes us comfortable. But more often than not, God calls us to go outside our comfort zones and do something that doesn’t necessarily make practical sense. On matters of family planning (and really, in all matters), we know that God is much better equipped to be the final decider than we are. He’s the only one who can see the whole picture. When all we may see are the “costs” of each baby, God sees the blessings and the provisions that will come with each new life. He sees the whole future laid out in front of Him –the purpose of each soul within human history– whereas our view is so myopic. My husband and I live in awe of that fact, and so we don’t believe that our fertility is meant to be carefully controlled according to our own desires, or cost-benefit analyses. We sought God’s will about a fourth baby, and he answered us with a pregnancy. It’s as simple as that. No other reasons even matter.

I was nervous about letting the cat out of the bag about this pregnancy. Some of my friends have received less-than-kind responses when announcing their own fourth babies. I know there are people in our life who just do not understand or think positively of our lifestyle (although, thankfully, every single person who commented on the ultrasound picture was gracious and kind). I don’t know what certain people are saying behind our backs, but I realized that it doesn’t matter. I shouldn’t be embarrassed or secretive about our children. Each of their lives is infinitely valuable and worthy of celebration, because each is created in God’s image and through God’s love. If pressed to draw one, my own line between “sane” and “insane” would be between those who see the value of every human life and those who don’t.  

 How can there be too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers! (attributed to Mother Teresa)

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Ink Slingers Marriage Matrimony Sacraments Shiela Vocations

Dear June Bride: A Love Letter to the Catholic Brides of Summer

…And Fall, Winter, and Spring brides,too. For various reasons, June is known as the month of weddings. Wedded bliss has been on my mind during this nuptial month because my son was asked to be the ring bearer for his cousin’s wedding. I am thrilled! And I am equally over the moon that my nephew and his bride-to-be have chosen to have a sacramental marriage. This means that they are entering into a sacred bond. They have done so mindfully and courageously.   And, so have you.

As you probably learned in marriage preparation classes, a Sacramental marriage is a union filled with God’s grace. It is a unique bond between a man and a woman. You bring to the covenant two distinct life experiences that when brought together have the power to create new life. You have allowed God to be an integral part of your unity. Keep your unity candle in a prominent place in your bedroom to remind you of His providential care of your love.

You entered into this bond willing to submit to the great unknown: you are open to life. This truth is one of the most daunting facets of Catholic married life. It is unique to the Catholic experience. For my husband and I, it is the most exhilarating. If ever I am taking a leap of faith, it is when I agree to be completely open to God’s plan for our family. I believe this openness strengthens our faith and our bond as husband and wife. Never before have we felt more lifted and carried through life. As a reminder to always trust in God, put little notes around your home that say, “Be not afraid!”

By entering into a sacramental marriage, you also agree that divorce is not an option. And, believe me, you will be tested. There will be weeks, months, and perhaps a year or two where you will question your choice. Your spouse may disappoint you. Your passionate feelings may wane. You may face death of a family member, miscarriage, infertility, financial failure, and you may feel like you have fallen into a hole with no way out. Just remember: this, too, shall pass. And, I find that when you weather these setbacks by staying close to the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist, you experience a constant renewal. The passion returns in ebbs and flows, in even greater waves. The confidence in your choice of a mate triumphs. And, you experience an overwhelming feeling of joy and gratefulness.

That’s not to say that all sacramental marriages will flourish. Some will falter, others will fail. But, if you have both entered into this union honestly, completely open to life and God’s plan for life, then you have a statistically good chance of surviving. The divorce rate for couples practicing Natural Family Planning is less than 5%. That is well below the national divorce rate which is 50%. I believe that the reason for this success rate is that NFP requires you to communicate on a most intimate level. If you can have these conversations, then you can pretty much talk about anything.

Pray together. Start early. Keep it simple. Up to this point, you have done everything together. You have gone to church together but have you ever sat quietly, alone and prayed together? It may seem awkward at first. But, just by praying the Lord’s Prayer right before you fall asleep together, you will experience spiritual intimacy unlike any other experience. And, you will be less likely to drift apart when you practice this simple act of faith, hope, and love.

Most of all, have fun! You have married your best friend. How awesome is that?! Enjoy him, encourage him, and be a joyful light in his life.

Congratulations and Best Wishes for an amazing adventure!

Sincerely,

A thankful Catholic bride of nearly 17 years

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

~ 1 John 4:18

Categories
Domestic Church Faith Formation Fatherhood Ink Slingers Marriage Matrimony Michelle Motherhood Parenting Respect Life Sacraments Vocations

20 Things You’ve Always Wanted to Know About Large Families, But Were Afraid to Ask

Our family size has been the topic of many conversations.  People are always asking us various questions, some with genuine interest, others out of rudeness.  It never ceases to amaze me what people will ask or will say behind our backs instead of asking us. There have been times where I have been hurt by what I have heard.   Many would be shocked to hear some of the comments we’ve endured from people who think that it is crazy to actually want a large family.  Society has conditioned us to believe that children are a burden and that we should want material things for ourselves instead of the joy that children can bring into our lives.  I find this sad and always say a little prayer for those who are so ugly to us when they question about our family size.  I pray that through meeting our family they will come to understand the happiness that comes from being open to God’s will in all areas of our lives.

There are those, however, who leave me feeling uplifted  after speaking to them about our family.  These are the people who look at our children and see the joy they bring.  They see their smiles and the sparkle in their eyes and say, “Oh!  You are so blessed!”  Sometimes these people will tell us about their own families, some of them also having large families, others having small.  Each one though understanding just how special each and every child is and how truly wonderful it is to be surrounded by such love.  I say a prayer for each of these people I come in contact with as well.  I thank God for their understanding and love.  They can’t begin to know how much their comments mean to me.

Blessed indeed!

I thought I would address some of the most common questions or comments that we, as a large family, get from those around us.  Again, I realize many are said in jest or out of true curiosity, but many are not.  I hope to dispel some of those false beliefs that follow large families wherever they go.

  • Yes, we know what causes it.  No, we don’t need a television or another hobby.  This is probably the number one comment we receive.  I can assure you that not only do we know what causes babies but we thoroughly enjoy it as well!
  • No, we don’t believe that everyone should have a large family and no, we aren’t judging you because you don’t have a large family.  We believe that God has called us to have many children.  He may be calling you to a completely different lifestyle.  What is right for us won’t necessarily be right for you.
  • No, our older children do not raise our younger children.  Yes, they do help out with the little ones.  Just as in any family of any size, each and every person is asked to help.  Helping does not equal raising.
  • Yes, it is much harder to have many children at home, even when you have older kids to help out.  Having a mix of ages means having more problems to deal with in a greater range of areas.  It’s not just a matter of having little ones who don’t know how to share; it’s little ones with colic, middle children who are struggling to find where they fit in with their peers or at home, and older ones who are facing broken hearts, peer pressure, and growing up.  It’s far more complicated that just having children of one age.
  • No, we don’t make a lot of money.  We aren’t rich nor do we live in a huge house.  Quite the opposite in fact!  We budget, scrimp and save.  We buy the necessities first and then the “wants” second.  Our house is small yet filled with love.
  • Yes, it takes a lot to feed this many people but probably not near what you think it does.  We make the majority of our food at home.  We don’t eat out much at all and we meal plan.  This saves on how much we spend on food.  I imagine we often spend the same as many small families. Most people are surprised to hear what our actual food budget is.
  • Yes, we use a tremendous amount of toilet paper.  Perhaps other large families don’t go through near what we do, but with 8 females in the house and only 4 boys, toilet paper is like gold here.
  • Our cost of living per person is less than most other families.  As I said before, we live in a smaller home, we wear hand-me-down clothes, we shop at discount stores or thrift stores, buy on clearance and only buy what we need. We do purchase some of those “wants” but only if we have the money in hand to spend.
  • Most large families are very environmentally friendly.  We are conscious about our “footprint” here on earth.  We grow a garden.  We recycle, reduce and recycle as much as possible.
  • No, we don’t want our own reality TV show nor are we competing with the Duggars or any other large family.  Why would we continue to have children that we have to support financially, emotionally, physically and spiritually just to compete with another large family?  This makes no sense at all.
  • Yes, our children fight.  Sometimes they fight like cats and dogs.  Sometimes they get along so well I wonder what’s going on.  Our kids are normal in every way.
  • No, I’m not always patient.  I’m human and have human faults.  I get frustrated and irritated. I yell.  I’m often not happy with my own reactions.  I pray each day, sometimes all day,  for God to grant me the patience I need to get through each day.
  • Yes, we are able to give each of our kids the love and attention they need.  In fact, they probably get more attention and love because there are more people to love on each person!  When you have a large family you don’t have to divide your love, your love naturally multiplies!
  • Yes, we are obviously able to have “alone time”.  We make taking time for each other a priority.  This is one thing that holds our family together.
  • No, we don’t know if we are “done”.  We are leaving that to God.  We have trusted Him so far, why would we change that now?
  • Yes, we have our hands full, but so are our hearts.
  • Yes, we know we will have a lot of weddings to pay for and yes, we are looking forward to it! Marriage is a blessing and a Sacrament.  We believe it is an incredible gift that we will get to be a part of so many.
  • No, we don’t wish God had given us more boys than girls.  We know that He has given our family exactly what we need.  We love each and every child because they are gifts from God, not because they are boys or girls.
  • No, we don’t expect that all our children will have large families.  We pray that they will be open to God’s will in their own lives.  This may mean they have large families, small families, or that they don’t have children at all.  We know that God will lead them to their vocation and we hope they will follow Him.
  • Yes, we are Catholic and no we don’t have a big family because our Church or the Pope says we have to!  Our faith teaches us that all life is sacred.  It also teaches that as long as we feel we have no grave reason to not have children that we should be open to God’s will in our lives.  The decision is always left to us to discern.  Over the years we have prayed and assessed our own lives and have seen that we want to be open to life, we want to embrace these teachings and we want to welcome any and all children God chooses to bless us with.  Our arms and our hearts are open to God’s will.

We know that having a large family is not the norm these days.  We also know that having a large family is a calling and vocation.  It isn’t for everyone.  We know that it is for us.  We know that God has called us to be open to life.  I feel very blessed that He has found us worthy of this calling.  I know it is only with His help and grace that we can raise such amazing children.  I am thankful that He continues to put people in our lives that love our family and can see what joy our children bring.  We know that while we often struggle God will always provide us with the material needs we have to raise our ever-growing family. He also provides for our spiritual and emotional needs as well.  We only have to ask Him and He is there.

Is there a question you’ve always had but never been able to ask about large families?  If so, I can try to answer them! Leave a comment and I’ll answer the best I can.

Categories
Ink Slingers Loss Michelle Respect Life Testimonials

William’s Legacy

::This story first posted on October 15, 2011 – it was *so* good, we just had to repost it!::

A Story of Life, Loss and Hope

Our sweet William at 12 weeks

Last year was a year that changed my life and challenged my faith.  It was a year that I wasn’t sure I would get through.  Some days when I look back, I wonder how I did and I pray that I never have to again.

I thought my heart could know no greater pain than when we lost our son Joseph at 16 weeks.  I had known previous losses, in fact, had known more than most.  But that loss was harder because I witnessed on ultrasound the last beats of my son’s heart.  I watched my son die.  It was devastating.  When I delivered him at home I felt very fortunate to get to hold him and kiss him.  I was crushed when we told our sadness to others and someone very close to us said, “This is why we don’t congratulate you.  You have a tendency to lose babies.”  It was a slap in the face and a glimpse into how some view pregnancy and the unborn.  To them only those who have a chance at making it to our arms are worthy of getting a congratulations.

When I found myself expecting again just a few months later, we told almost no one.  At 8 weeks our little girl’s heart was struggling to keep up.  Each week it got slower and more labored.  At 11 weeks it stopped.  We bore our pain in silence.  Only a few trusted friends knew we were grieving yet again.  It made me sad that so few would mourn our little Sarah with us. But at the time we didn’t feel we could open ourselves up to the added pain of family and friends not supporting our decision to be open to life, even when it meant we might not get to hold that life for long.

Again, just a few months later, we found I was expecting.  We decided to tell everyone we could.  We hoped the prayers that those who would pray for us would help keep us going and help our little baby along.  There were those who were happy for us and those who kept their congratulations to themselves.  We focused on the positive people and the hope that our little one would be ok.

At a routine ultrasound we found I had an enormous uterine bleed.  We were shocked.  Up to this point I had not been bleeding, was feeling movement, and generally feeling well.  After my appointment, while still in the office, I started to bleed heavily.  I was put on bedrest and followed closely.  At the next two appointments our baby was growing and his heart beat was strong.   We hoped for the best.

Two weeks later, on December 21, I woke up feeling “bad”.  I’m not sure how to describe the feeling… just not right.  I called the doctor’s office.  They reminded me what to look for in a miscarriage and told me to keep my feet up.  By afternoon I was having contractions.  Again I called the doctor’s office who told me I could either make the hour drive to the office or could go to our local ER.  The pain was getting to be so intense we chose to go to the ER.

It has been almost ten months since all of this happened and it still hurts so much to recall the events that happened to us.  A gentle caution here for readers who might be going through this now or who might get upset easily; the rest of this story includes intense images. 

Our Nightmare Begins

When we got to the ER, we checked in and were told that there was no room for me and I had to just sit and wait.  Several times I had Kaylie, my oldest daughter who drove me to the hospital,  tell them that I really needed to be seen. Each time they told us that there was no room for us and to just sit down. My water broke and Kaylie went to the desk to tell them. Again she told us to just sit down because there was no room for me. I told her that if they didn’t get me back that the baby would be born in the waiting room. Again she said, “Sit down; we have no room for you.” Suddenly I felt pressure and without being able to stop it, William was born in the waiting room into my clothes. I started to cry and told Kaylie to tell them that the baby was here. Again the nurse said, “Sit down, there’s nothing we can do right now. There are no rooms.”

I tried my hardest to sit there but rose up on my side because the baby was in my clothes and I didn’t want to sit on him. I was sobbing into my jacket that I held up to my face. The people in the waiting room just watched me. No one did anything to help. Finally after about 10 minutes of me sitting out there sobbing, a nurse came with a wheelchair. She told me to get in the chair and sit down. I said that I had to be careful because the baby was in my clothes. As soon as I sat down she looked at where I had been sitting and loudly announced, “Someone needs to call housekeeping to clean up this mess.” I was covered in blood and water as was the chair I had been sitting in. As she wheeled me back she knocked me into the door, never apologizing, never asking if I was ok.

As we got back to the room they were going to put me in, she again hit me into the doorframe. She said, “Sometimes these wheelchairs are hard to push.” Not, “I’m sorry” nor “Are you ok?” We got into the room and she told me to take off all my clothes and put on the gown that was on the bed. I told her I would need help as the baby was in my clothes. She told me, “Just let everything drop to the ground.” I again told her I couldn’t because the baby was in my clothes and was attached to me still. She said, “Just let it fall to the ground with your clothes.” I yelled at her “NO! The baby is attached to me and I’m not letting my baby fall to the ground!” She told me again to let the baby fall to the ground with my clothes.

By this time I had my pants down and was holding the baby who was still attached to me by the umbilical cord. I was shocked at his size. He was so much bigger than I thought he was going to be! I held him in my hands and told the nurse that I needed her help. She just watched me. She wouldn’t help. I reached up and pulled at the cord to release it. I was already bleeding pretty badly but this made me bleed so much worse. Of course if I had thought it through I would have realized that was a bad idea; there is a reason they clamp the cord instead of just pull to detach it. I told the nurse that I needed her to hold the baby so I could get my clothes off. She finally came to me and I put William in her hands. She gasped. I don’t think she was prepared to see such a perfect baby like that.

I took off my clothes which were horribly bloody and put on the gown and got into the bed. The doctor finally came in to examine me and to look at the baby. They never closed the curtain or the door to the room and the way the bed was facing everyone walking by could look at me and see everything that was going on in the room. Poor Kaylie was standing at the end of the bed near the wall watching as everything happened. At one point she tried to come to me but my bloody clothes were lying beside the bed and she almost threw up. She said, “Mama, I can’t.” I told her it was ok and that she didn’t need to look nor did she need to get near my clothes.

The nurse that had taken William from me picked him up and put him in a bucket that had a formaldehyde solution. She didn’t worry about it would make us feel to have him just dropped in a bucket. While she did this the doctor told me he thought I should have an ultrasound to check on the placenta. He walked out of the room leaving the curtains and the door open.

The ultrasound tech came in with a machine and literally kicked my clothes out of her way (no one had done anything with them yet).  She did the u/s and confirmed that my placenta was still firmly attached. When the doctor came back in to hear what she had to say, he told her that he was certain the baby was further along than we thought because of his size. She said that the placenta looked normal and that I probably would need drugs to help deliver it. He agreed and asked me if I would take some medicine to help me contract. I agreed. He then told me he wanted me to take morphine and I told him no; I needed to be cognizant and if I took that I wouldn’t be.

As I lay on the bed, no one cleaned me up. My hands were covered in dried blood from catching the baby and my legs were covered as well. I had been passing huge blood clots that they just left me to lie in. Finally a nurse came in and said to me, “Why don’t I try to clean you up honey.” She started with my hands and gently washed them the best she could. The blood was dried under my nails and into the lines on my hands. My skin was tinted from the blood. She couldn’t get it off very well. She also finally put a sheet over me to give me a little privacy and she closed the curtain. As she looked between my legs she shook her head and said she was sorry that no one helped to clean me up.  She did her best to help me out and she was the only person in the entire ER to truly try to give me a little dignity.

At one point in the ER I thought I had passed the placenta. I was in terrible pain and passed something extremely big and firm. I told the nurse (the original nurse) who did nothing. Eventually the doctor came in and I told him I thought I might have passed the placenta. He looked and said, “No, just a huge clot.” He put the sheet back down and did nothing. The caring nurse came in a while later and decided to check under the sheet again, gasped and told me that she would help me. After she was done there she looked again at my hands and said, “Oh honey, I’m sorry I didn’t do a very good job the first time. Let me try again.” And she tried once again to clean my hands. She wasn’t successful.

Finally they had some place to put me in labor and delivery. As we were leaving the ER room I told Mike to take the baby with us. He took the plastic container they had put him in and wrapped it in a towel and put it on the gurney with me. The doctor said he didn’t know if that would be legal. I told him that I didn’t care and that my baby was not leaving my side. He didn’t say anything else. The caring nurse and a male nurse wheeled me up to L&D where some amazing nurses took over. The caring nurse came to me, tears in her eyes, and asked if she could give me a hug. She told me how sorry she was and then gave Mike and Kaylie both hugs as well. She was a wonderful woman and the only good thing about the ER. Outside of this nurse not one person in the ER expressed any sympathy for our loss nor did they do anything to try to help us have privacy or peace.

The nurses in the L&D were wonderful. They had great bedside manner and were so caring and kind. The one main nurse was terrible at sticking my arms and I ended up with 6 different blown veins, but to me that was so much better to go through than how I had been treated in the ER.  I delivered William at around 4:20. I didn’t deliver the placenta until 10:45pm. I was in labor for such a long time and in pain for that entire time. Because I didn’t have the morphine I didn’t get to have medicine to help with the labor pains. I cried many times laying there on that bed. I prayed that I would hemorrhage so that perhaps I would have to have an emergency hysterectomy and I would never face the decision to be open to life again and thus would never have to go through not only the physical pain but the emotional and spiritual pain I was feeling. Of course, I’m so glad that didn’t happen, but at the time I prayed so hard for it to be so. God knew my pain and knew what was best for me. I am so thankful for His decision to keep my fertility.  God always knows best. Thankfully He answers our prayers the way He knows is best.

When I was finally able to leave the delivery room and be put into a room of my own I told Mike to make sure he brought the baby with us. The nurse told me that she wasn’t sure if I could do that and maybe I would need to sign something. I told her that I would sign whatever they wanted but that he would not be leaving me. She said ok and wheeled me out of the room and into my own room.

William’s tiny perfect foot

Late that night Mike and Kaylie left to go home.  I was alone with my precious son.  I held him.  I counted his toes and his fingers.  I held his hand, stroked his head, and held his body close to mine.  I willed life back into him.  He lay motionless.  I cried tears of pain that I had never cried before.  I prayed.  I prayed that God would help me see why I had to go through such a traumatic experience.  I prayed that God would help me forgive those who didn’t help us.  I prayed that God could give me peace.  I felt alone.  I wondered where God was in all of this.  I could look at my son and see Him, but I felt like He had abandoned me.  It was the worst feeling I have ever felt.  Still, I prayed as I never have before.  I didn’t sleep that night, only held my son and prayed.

We were finally able to go home. We took William with us. We contacted the funeral home and our church and set up a time to bury him. It was so hard to take him to the funeral home to have them prepare him for burial. I was not expecting them to have him laid out for us to see just as they would at any visitation, but they did. It was the tiniest casket I have ever seen and there were candles on either side of the casket. I was alone when I saw this as Mike was at the cemetery preparing the grave. I broke down and sobbed.

On New Year’s Eve the funeral home brought William to us at the church. We were able to open the casket one last time to see him. Afterward we had a small graveside burial for him.  It was a very lonely experience.  Just three people came to his funeral outside of our little family… a couple who have “adopted us” as their family and a woman who I am friendly with. I felt even more alone.  It was hard burying my son without the people we are closest to.

Hope Revealed

Throughout this time I wondered where God was.  Why were we going through all of this?  I understood that sometimes we can’t keep the precious ones God has blessed us with, but why did we have to lose him in the manner that we did?  My faith was strong; I was devout; I was trying my hardest to be a good Christian and follower of Christ.   Was I being tested?  If so, why was my son’s life just heartlessly thrown away?  It was hard to see the good when I was in so much pain, was so angry, and was grieving.

As time has passed I realize that there was good in what we experienced- the nurse who cleaned my hands so delicately and showed me God’s love and compassion; the 3 people who came to William’s funeral who could understand our need to be surrounded by people who loved us and loved our son; the closeness it brought our family through shared suffering; the ability to share William’s story in the hopes to help others see just how precious life is regardless of how “old” the person is.   I learned that through all these trials I have to continue to trust in God, especially in the times when I am lost.   I have to see God in all people, even those who fail me.  I know that God did not abandon me during my time of need but He was standing there holding me as I held my son.  He was encouraging me to turn to Him, to always seek Him in everything… good or bad.

I look at our Holy Mother Mary and know the pain she felt.  She lost her son in a terrible and cruel way.  She held him after he was taken from the cross and wiped the blood off his still body.  She had to trust God when she couldn’t understand what was going on or what would happen next.   Both her heart and soul felt broken, but God was there always beside her.  During this time I looked at Mary and her strength and knew that I would go on.  I knew that God had a plan and as hard as it was, I needed to trust Him.

William’s hands, holding our hearts forever

I have always told people that while Mike and I are open to life we understand that being open to life means being open to loss.  As hard as it is to understand and to get through, we know that life is precious and no matter how much time we are blessed with, we are thankful for each and every one of our children.  It’s a hard way to live.  It involves sacrifice of self and complete trust in God.  I know that I couldn’t live my life any other way.  God has blessed us.  We know that the road to Him is not always an easy one, but we are willing to travel that road.  We have a host of heavenly saints helping to lead our way and with Christ at the center of our lives we know that God will never leave us.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10