When we come out to the other side of sorrow, there is a dawning of a new day and hope is born.
Today, for the very first time, I carried by beautiful baby niece and goddaughter. I am proud to announce that I was the first person to carry her after her mother and father (and of course, the doctors and nurses who cared for her). I took that honour for myself in a way that I have never done before because my beautiful niece BELONGS to me.
I do not say these words lightly. I love my own children born to me with all my heart and soul and mind. My responsibility for their precious souls so entrusted to me by God weighs heavily upon me and the love I bear for them cannot be put into words. While my niece is my Goddaughter, she is not my only one, I have many Goddaughters and Godsons and each is truly special to me – I pray for them all and all my nieces and nephews (and yours too) – may God bless them.
My love for this particular niece – my ownership of her – in no way competes with my sister’s maternal love for this child. And yet, my niece is mine. She belongs to me as she belongs to all of us who prayed for her.
Several long dark years ago, I lost a child before he was born. When that happened, my heart was so broken that I had no words to speak. The despair and grief were so overwhelming that for days and days and days I could not pick up my phone to speak to anyone who called me to offer condolences or to check on me. I could not speak to my husband or to my chiIdren. I do not mean that I WOULD not speak – but that I COULD not speak to people… for days and days and days. Words would not come out of my mouth.
The experience was surreal. I was outside of myself. Perhaps I was a little mad.
I tried to articulate the experience by Christmas of that year when I wrote a poem about my baby, and in it I said…
“My baby took my voice, far, far away.
He stole it away with my broken soul.
This year I lost my baby – in a day,
and fought a year – to find my voice he stole.
So now I write these words for you to read
until my baby gives my voice to me.”
When this terrible terrible unthinkable thing happened to me, I told my mother that it happened because God hated me and wanted to punish me. My mother, who herself lost three children at or before their birth, replied, “God took your baby because He loves you – not because He hates you!”
Those were very hard words for me to hear. I hated hearing them. They went against everything that I believed in. They condemned God to me and though I continued to drag my children to Mass each week and say their morning and evening prayers with them (for them not for me), my anger with God was relentless. Only a wicked and cruel God would deny me my child who I would love with all my heart. How dare He!
I was trapped in this wasteland for years and years, and I will forever ask forgiveness of God for my own ignorant stupidity! Shame on me!
Then, came the great and wonderous miracle of my niece.
Suddenly, I hear my mother’s words again as though she speaks them to me today, but this time I listen – I do not simply hear. My ears which all my life could only hear suddenly – miraculously – listen. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, who came to me with Grace through prayers for my beautiful baby niece, I could actually listen.
My mother was right.
God did not TAKE anything from me.
When my baby died, he was not TAKEN.
He was RECEIVED.
God did not TAKE my baby from me.
He GAVE to me a SAINT.
My little dead baby never really died at all… for is it not our ultimate goal to seek eternal salvation? My little dead baby is with God in Heaven for all eternity, waiting for his brothers, sister, father and I, and all those who pray for my niece and others, to join him.
What I thought was my greatest tragedy is truly my greatest gift.
I, who had once thought myself cursed, understand that I am truly blessed among women!
God’s love for me knows no bounds when He allowed my baby to enter eternal life without once suffering a temptation on this Earth.
God’s love for me knows no bounds when my innocent child died surrounded by the angels and the saints in purity and innocence (Baptised by Desire).
God’s love for me knows no bounds when I begged His forgiveness for my ingratitude – and He forgave me.
God’s love for me knows no bounds when He allowed me to find my voice again to write with humility so that others may witness His power in converting such a great sinner as me through His Grace.
As one of the beautiful priests praying with us for my niece has said, “Through prayer, God is healing hearts – hers and ours!” That is the miracle of niece! And what a great and glorious gift it is!
With my niece everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.