Sunday, October 1, 2017

Honoring Baby Therese

In honor of the Feast of St. Therese of Lisieux I've decided to share something I wrote four months ago to honor our miscarried baby. I never meant for this letter to be public, and I'd rather be spared awkward sympathy, but if my words help even one person process the pain of a miscarriage, they will be worth posting.

To my dear Therese Miriam,

It has been a week since God took you back. You were in our lives for such a brief span of time that I would’ve thought it would be easy to go back to the way things were before. I didn’t think it should be this hard.

After all, we put the Lord in charge of family planning years ago, and through this we have learned to trust in His will. I trust that you’re safe in the arms of Jesus. You’ll be raised by saints free from the evils of this world, a perfect flower tended by the Master Gardener. I can’t wait to someday see your lovely face.

I know, too, that miscarriage is so very common and natural. One in four pregnancies end in miscarriage, so statistics were not on our side. I’m comforted to be surrounded by so many women who have walked through this dark storm to later be renewed by a rainbow of hope.

Yes, my reasonable brain told me this shouldn’t be too difficult. I spent many moments this week basking in the sunlight of late spring amid the giggles of my living blessings, feeling perfectly normal. I was grateful that we hadn’t told many people about the pregnancy, making it easy to simply move on like nothing happened.

And yet, it has been incomprehensibly difficult.  My breath has been stolen at the horrendous thought of flushing a life down the toilet. My heart aches at the indignity of pretending you never existed.

It has been said that, “Making the decision to have a child - it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body,” (-Elizabeth Stone). Your life was just a few fleeting weeks, but it only took a moment to give my heart away.

So I will honor the part of my heart that walks in Heaven.

I named you Therese after Saint Therese of Lisieux, “The Little Flower.” Like you, she was too delicate for this world. A sickly girl, she was too weak to fulfill any great mission. Yet through her writing she taught us that even the smallest, weakest flowers among us can leave a lasting legacy.

Your middle name is Miriam after the little girl who watched carefully over her brother Moses. Louisa had prayed so fervently for a sister, but we hadn’t yet told her we were expecting. On the night I started bleeding, without explanation she began crying inconsolably and had to sleep in bed with me. Please watch over her and your brothers as Miriam did for Moses.

I will plant a rosebush in your honor and have a mass said, but most of all I will try to learn from this experience. I know that even the shortest of lives has a divine purpose. I believe that the labor of suffering can give birth to profound grace. What does God want us to learn through your brief life?

Maybe it’s the stronger hope of Heaven to finally meet you. Maybe it’s the realization that none of our children are our own; they are God’s flowers for us to tend so they’ll bloom for His glory. Maybe it’s the acceptance that our surviving children can never experience the perfect childhood that you will in Heaven. Maybe your death will bring our family closer together in gratitude for each other.

Whatever gift the Lord is giving, I pray for the graces to unwrap it.
Until we meet again,

Finding a way to honor Therese's life paved the way to healing. Four months later, I am happy to report that we are once again expecting a new family member! Oh, and that rosebush I bought to honor Baby Therese? It's been blooming all week leading up to today's feast day.

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