Despite my seeming silence, there have been things going on in my head and heart which have led me to the above conclusion.
The main event was the birth of my second granddaughter early in February. As we stood outside the nursery window and watched that new little soul just a few minutes into her mortal experience, I realized that I was hurting—physically in pain. I wanted them to wrap her up; I wanted them to stop sticking her and putting chemicals in her eyes; I wanted to hold her but realized that that was not yet my place. And all along, something inside me was aching.
I don’t remember feeling that when my own children were born. But, of course, that was back in the days of Lamaze, so perhaps the other pain was so intense that I didn’t have time or opportunity to notice anything else.
Of course, I do remember all the of incidents of our own children suffering. This was brought back in a flood when my oldest granddaughter fell and hit her head while playing at our house. The outcome was OK; the interim, full of anxiety.
Then, as we tried to calm jangled nerves, all the other remembrances stood in line and waited for their proper acknowledgment: the fall this little girl’s mother took off the lawn tractor straight onto a concrete garage floor, the time she spilled very hot soup on her older sister’s leg, her brother’s glance toward us in the stands after he got hit with a particularly hard ball during a game, her second brother’s pain after a surgical procedure which my oldest daughter (who had had a similar procedure) forgot her own discomfort to try to soothe, our youngest daughter’s fall against a table which opened a gash through her eyebrow which required plastic surgery attention while she cried herself voiceless in a restraining cocoon. There they all were—and more—and the pain was only slightly diminished due to the passage of time.
Although I mourned the loss of children who never got born, I have so far been spared the loss of any whom I have birthed. And yet, for earlier generations, the death of a child was almost to be expected. It is still a sadly common occurrence in our modern world. Quite frankly, I don’t know how anyone survives that experience. Of all the pains, I think that one must be the most piercing.
My mother is among that number. I suspect her remembrance doesn’t occur only on my youngest sister’s birthday, as it often does for me.
And a friend once told me about one of her ancestors whose daughter died as the result of being thirsty on a very hot southern day and coming in to find some water in a vase that was holding some flowers...unfortunately, stems of oleander. As this mother lay on her death bed many years later, she was calling the name of that long-lost child.
So, on this Monday after Easter, as the everyday routine takes precedence, may I take just a moment to honor all those who have launched their fragile boats on the seas of parenthood, endured all the agonies of the journey, and reached the safe harbor of death with a positive balance of fortitude. We know the buffeting of the waves must have been daunting at times. Thank you for risking it.
And humble gratitude to One who made it possible to recover all losses through His unimaginable suffering on our behalf. May we never forget that sacrifice in one garden and the ultimate triumph in another. Happy Easter (never really late, I guess!).