I was reminded of how I passed the chance to hold him, without knowing it would be my only time to feel the small weight of him. I was reminded of how I didn’t walk to the front of the chapel to see him.
Sitting in Mass last week, with the great Father Frank Pavone (yes, Father Pavone of Priests for Life) as the celebrant, how could I not foresee that the small white casket would be part of my day today? A few hundred people, a famous priest, a screaming toddler (yeah, that’s my kid), and not one nasty look on their part or flip-out moment on my part. (Thanks, God.) A moving homily and then a stirring speech afterward, all focused on life…just where, you ask, does the small white casket come into play?
It wasn’t so long ago that I didn’t so much care about the whole issue of pro-life, choice, whatever. I’m just one person. What’s my opinion worth? (For that matter, that last is still true!) And then, the small white casket entered the picture.
I watched a couple bury another son with grace and dignity. I watched a woman arrange the funeral for her daughter’s son, her grandson. I watched the funeral director with tears streaming down his face. I watched the man I would someday marry carry himself there, and I watch him still struggle with what was the third small white casket for the family.
The other night, the small white casket edged into my mind at news of a miscarriage. A miscarriage is but a buried baby with no ritual, near as I can tell. I can’t call it no big deal. I know too many people who have suffered in silence, and I see too many who would give almost anything to have those babies.
And then there’s the issue of why I care now. You see, our family would take those buried babies. We’d love to have them – they would be around 13, 10, and 5. God needed them back, but that’s no comfort for us. We need them in heaven (keeping my daughter off the road, for one thing!), but again, we’d take them here in a heartbeat.
But, for a reason we will only have (if we remember to ask) when we’re face to face with our Father, they’re not here now. They’re in small white caskets, on a gravesite we visit and will take our daughter to this year, so that she knows about her three cousins, and appreciates the extra angels she has.
I see now, in looking back, that the small white casket was the first big explosion in the hard brick wall of my heart. The raw wounds I was tucking away, the bitterness and the pain, could fester no more in the bright light of closer examination. I see now, in the light of the small white casket, the hypocrisy of killing perfectly healthy babies. Is it any coincidence that I know so many women who have lost children, had insurmountable hurdles in conceiving, or have had to accept their childless lives?
I think, sometimes, of just how easy it was for me to get pregnant. BAM. Blink. Done. Then I think about how easy my pregnancy was – no bed rest, no fear of losing the baby, no sickness that I couldn’t deal with. What about the ease of labor? What about her health? All fine. Great. Perfect.
I have so much to be thankful for, and yet, the small white casket is the light that’s providing the blessings. I can’t help but think that, in looking for baseball bats, God chose, instead, a small white casket to hit me with. I still can’t think of it without tears, and I am completely unable to talk about it without being an embarrassing snot-volcano. But the small white casket changed my life, from the inside. The small white casket gave me the perspective. No, I’m not the most important person in my life. I’m not the one running the show. I never will be. No, it’s not always easy to be the impossible list of roles. I don’t have to be perfect. I just have to do Thy will, not my will. I just have to focus heavenward. I just have to let Him carry me when I’m not strong, and let Him drive. I just have to keep myself praying, always praying.
Some people have the grace to know what’s right. For me, there’s the small white casket.
..sniff, sniff.. speaking of a snot volcano…your words touch me. Does ANYONE have a kleenex?! In a strange way I feel blessed that you have been effected that way. Thank you Sarah, for loving those babies and keeping them close to your heart.
**handing you a virtual kleenex in the form of a Hail Mary**
Susan, you are the reason for many of my convictions. I can’t think of anyone else who could THANK God for taking their babies. I think God knew what he was doing, and I also think that there are many ways that in being who we are we inspire and impact those around us. You will probably never know the kicking and screaming I did toward God about the whole thing. But you will probably never appreciate just how pro-life and how strong in my faith I am as a result of your example either.
You two are beautiful. I praise God for your witness in this world which supports a culture of death.
Sarah, your writing is so well formulated. Your last two lines… well, they’re perfect. From a writing standpoint, you go girl! I suppose it does help to be so moved, so convicted, so sincere.. God bless you always!
*blushing* Thanks Laura! Your words are too kind, and I have to give the credit elsewhere; surely what I have to say, if it comes out in a way that touches you, does so because of the grace of God, and not my own devising. I would like to take credit, but I can’t. The best things I write are when I let go and let God…
I’m new here…
That was a beautiful post.
While reading, I was struck by God’s amazing design of life. He gives and takes, and no, we are not the center….but it is all beauty and love, even the heartaches.
We have our own small, white casket as a part of our life. I ache inside whenever I mention her name, and my children look at me with a blank look….we lost her early in my pregnancy, but I don’t want them to forget! A sister in heaven is painful, yet glorious.
Thanks for this post.
Welcome, Nutmeg! It’s great to have you here! I was touched by your comment. The small white casket, for me, is a reminder of the Cross, and of the lesson that it is through pain, suffering, and death that we come to Life.
Thank you. When I lost my own child to miscarriage only one priest knew of and offered the blessing that the Church gives us for such an event. Unfortunately we were not in the same town and we’ve never done it.
It is strange the way things happen, I had lost my grandfather on Thanksgiving, my father unexpectedly 12 days later and about 6 weeks later miscarried in the middle of the night not knowing I was pregnant (long story there).
My husband who faints at the sight of blood was relegated to the hallway at 2am worried to death while I being practical triaged myself, determined a trip to the ER was unnecessary despite the massive quantities of blood, and told him we’d need to find a doc in the am on a Monday holiday in a new town. (An angel on a physician line found me a doc and got me a same day apt!)
The doc estimated I was about 4-8 weeks along and the lab tests confirmed the presence of a “product of conception;” I called him Michael.
You know I’ve never blogged about this, perhaps I will.
People always ask if we have children and I’m always tempted to say yes, but then never feel like explaining fearing they’ll roll their eyes. The other day someone was chiding me for not having any yet cause they wanted my mom to be a grandma and I almost snapped back something incredibly rude at them. I bet they never would have poked into a woman whom they had just met’s personal life like that again. But that wouldn’t have been very charitable of me, or at the least not very polite.
I’ve rambled, but back to my original point…Thank you.
Daughter of St. John, thank you so much for sharing your story. I totally think you should blog about it! Please send me a link when you do – I would like to read it (and I might not remember to add you to my blog-reading list in time…things are a bit …hectic… for me right now!)