A couple of days ago, I was praying the Way of the Cross:

I imagined Mary standing at the foot of the cross, unable to relieve the suffering of her Son. She wasn’t able to reach up and wipe away the blood and dirt from His face. She couldn’t give Him the comfort of a mother’s touch. She couldn’t do anything but stay near Him and suffer.

thought of Thomas and his birth, and darkness descended...

Thomas slid from the warm safe muffled cocoon of the womb, into the bright fluorescent world full of distinct and strange sounds. Instead of being placed into my safe and welcoming arms where he could be held close and hear my voice and heart beat, and adjust to all these changes, he was taken by a sterile stranger who immediately thrust a breathing apparatus over his face.

“Wave goodbye to Mum!” the nurse cheerily cried, as Thomas was wheeled swiftly out of the delivery room to the NICU, a stream of medical staff following close behind. I was left alone with empty arms and my tears.

The next time I saw Thomas, he was hooked up to the life support equipment. He was lying motionless, half-hidden under the wires and tubes invading his tiny body. My first instinct was to touch him, to stroke his arm and let him feel the comfort of my touch.

“Don't touch your baby! Touch the bed your baby is lying on,” the nurse ordered. Touch the bed? How would that connect me to my baby? But I held the bed. What else could I do?

“We’ve paralysed your baby to reduce trauma. He can hear and feel, but he can’t move.”

I think of a baby lying still, feeling and hearing but unable to cry or move or see.

Babies are born ready to suckle and nuzzle against warm skin. They want to hear their mother’s voice and her heart beat, fill their tummies with milk. They need to be able to cry to express their needs. And Thomas could do none of that. He couldn't even breathe without the aid of a machine.

And I, like Mary, had to stand to one side unable to help him at all.

There were many moments in Thomas’ 28 ¼ hours of life that I wanted to say, “Enough! Let him die! I don’t want him to suffer any more.” But I didn’t. I knew I had to stand silently by and suffer with my baby until God saved him or took him.

Thomas died. The wires and tubes were removed. His tiny pierced body was placed in our arms. His suffering was over. Ours had barely begun.

Later, I was so angry with God. How could He have taken Thomas when I’d prayed so hard and tried to be faithful? How could He have allowed a baby to suffer so much? I felt abandoned and unloved by God. A God who would inflict such sorrow on anyone couldn’t be loving, could He? 

I think again of Mary standing by the cross watching Her Son suffer and die. And I know the pain Thomas and I suffered is only a pale reflection of that suffered by Jesus and Mary. But how could any pain be greater than that which I experienced? I can't imagine such pain. Why did Jesus endure  such suffering? Out of immense love for us.

And why did God allow me and Thomas to suffer? Not because He doesn't care, but because He loves us so very much. 

And although my words might sound a little muddled, deep in my heart I am so very sure of God's overwhelming love for me.

The darkness... Why do I cry? For myself? No, for Thomas as I think of the pain he endured. Babies should be protected and kept safe, but sometimes we are unable to do that. We have to stand by silently with our tears and suffer.

Tonight the Triduum begins. In three days’ time Easter morning will dawn. The sorrow of the cross will be transformed into the joy of the resurrection.

And I pray the darkness will roll away and be replaced by the Light, not just for me, but for all those who are grieving.

Jesus and Mary understand. God loves us to a depth we cannot imagine. And our sorrow will be transformed.


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  1. I will be holding you and you whole family in my prayers in the coming triduum.

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    1. Thank you Uglemor, I appreciate that very much. I am praying for your family too.

      God bless!

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  2. Sue, I found it difficult to understand why God didn't grant a miracle when I was aware of other miracles happening around the same time. Later, I could see purpose in God's plan but, today as I was reflecting, the thought that Thomas was especially chosen struck me very deeply. I know it's true, of course, but I hadn't understood the significance and the extent of God's love. I'm not sure if that's worth sharing but I thought you might like to know where Thomas is spreading his love in the world.

    God bless you, dearest sister:-)

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    1. Vicky,

      "Thomas was especially chosen struck me very deeply" Thank you so much for sharing that thought. To be chosen gives meaning to Thomas' death.

      A friend once told me she thought Thomas and all babies who die are 'little' saints. They don't earn their place in Heaven as much as get there by default because they are innocent and without sin. I don't believe they just slip into Heaven the easy way at all. Yes, chosen by God...

      I am so pleased to hear Thomas is spreading his love in the world!

      God bless!

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  3. Wow- what a deeply moving reflection. Our suffering truly does allow us to share in Christ suffering. Your stories always remind me of that and inspire me to face the difficulties of life with grace.

    May your Easter be a joyful season of love and peace

    God Bless, Kari

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    1. Kari,

      "Our suffering truly does allow us to share in Christ suffering". Instead of feeling we've been overlooked, it is more true to say we've been given a gift. Our sufferings are valuable, and they do bring us closer to God.

      I think anyone who has suffered will really feel that pain again at the Passion of Our Lord on Good Friday (this afternoon for us). Maybe we have to personally feel a little of Jesus' sufferings before we can appreciate that great love He has for us. I was trying to multiply the pain I experienced in losing Thomas by all the souls in the world, past and present and future, and really it was just too overwhelming to contemplate. But just think of His love in suffering that for us!

      Kari, I pray you and your family have a very blessed Easter too.

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  4. Sue, I was incredibly touched by your post. You and Our Lady deeply understand what it is to suffer silently unable to hold and help your child.

    Some of the questions in your post are questions I've asked too during my life: "Why, oh why do you allow this Lord?" I still don't have all the answers but I know He loves us with an everlasting love and I have come to accept that I won't understand many things until I reach heaven. When we reach it God will wipe away every tear from our eyes. And you will see your beloved son again.

    Sending you a big hug, Sue, and my prayers too. God bless you, my friend.

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    1. Mary,

      "When we reach it God will wipe away every tear from our eyes. And you will see your beloved son again." I often think about that moment when we reach Heaven and we are reunited and we understand. Suffering will be over forever! Yes, no more tears.

      Why does God allow such pain? I have come to the conclusion that we just have to trust. As time goes by, God does allow us glimpses of the good He brings from such sorrow. What do the saints say? If they could return to earth and suffer some more for God they would. It must be worth it!

      Thank you for your prayers and hug. One day we'll have a real one.

      May God bless you and your family!

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  5. This is gripping. What a connection you have to the Blessed Mother.

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    1. Nancy,

      I am thinking that connection to the Blessed Mother is a privilege. I really feel Mary is close to me and understands. She certainly draws us close to Jesus, doesn't she? We are all there under the cross next to her.

      God bless!

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  6. Crying... and praying for you and your family... love you!!

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    1. Susan,

      I told you being able to cry is good. Crying with a friend is a real gift of love and compassion. Thank you. I love you too!

      Praying you have a very blessed Easter with your family!

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  7. This was so touching, Sue. I have never carried and lost a baby to term...I can't imagine the pain that you experienced and will forever remember. I am so glad that we have our Blessed Mother to turn to with our sorrows...she understands in ways that others cannot.

    Blessings,
    Valerie

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    1. Valerie,

      Since I began blogging I have been overwhelmed by the kindness and compassion of the friends I have made. Not everyone has experienced child loss, but so many people are still willing to stop by and share my stories, and add a comforting comment. Readers don't pass over my grief stories thinking they have nothing to do with them, so why bother reading them. Being willing to share in the sufferings of others is true charity.

      We all suffer but in different ways. Somehow I don't think it matters that our experiences are different. We are all still so needy. We all remember our sorrows especially during Lent. Yes, our Mother Mary understands and is with all of us.

      Thank you for your comment which I appreciate very much.

      God bless!

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  8. Oh Sue, you and the Blessed Mother have a unique bond in that you've both watched your babies suffer. Hers was a grown man, but to a momma, our children are always our babies. May Our Blessed Mother hold you tight as you remember and mourn your precious Thomas.

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    1. Noreen,

      Thank you! You have such a bond with Mary yourself. Your posts are so full of love for our Blessed Mother. I am sure she stands beside you as you fight to save the unborn.

      I have been thinking so much about those babies who are killed. They are blotted out as if it is an easy and quick matter. And it's not. Both mothers and babies suffer. Yes, all babies need protecting and keeping safe.

      May Mary hold you tight too. That is such a consoling and beautiful image!

      God bless!

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  9. Dear Sue, how beautiful this post is! And thank you for sharing the picture of your precious little boy. I wish I could have seen his little face. I was thinking about you and Thomas earlier today...in church, actually. I recalled your recent comments to me about St. Therese, and the more I know you, the more I admire your wisdom, your faith, your endurance, you trust in God and so many other qualities. I was thinking today that in a way, those are Thomas' gifts to you...they grew in you as you fought to deal with the loss and pain. Thomas lived a day, but he changed you for life...you, and I'm sure so many others whom his brief life touched.

    I know that in Heaven, you will be amazed at how much Thomas accomplished with his short life, and continues to accomplish from heaven.

    Reading what you wrote, I so much wanted to take away your pain, but if I could, I would really be taking away your gifts. God bless you, dear Sue...and you are certainly a very special daughter of Our Lady, who is the only one who can truly understand what you endure. But, love for Thomas keeps you strong, and you keep going. You are in my heart and prayers. May you find your sweet son in Holy Communion, when all of Heaven comes with Jesus...remember what St. Therese said about her mother being nearest to her during Holy Communion?

    Thank you, dear friend, for all I learn from you. Happy Easter..and much love.....

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    1. Patricia,

      You have said everything so perfectly! Yes, I wouldn't be the same person if I hadn't suffered the loss of Thomas. I feel sad he had to die in order for me to learn so many difficult lessons, but I do believe, as you said, his life is still accomplishing so much. Thomas was indeed chosen. God had a greater plan for his life that the one we had in mind. Isn't it amazing that the value of a life is not measured in time? Thomas lived for only a day but his story has affected so many people, and continues to do so.

      Oh yes! I wish to take other people's pain away too. But of course we'd take away those gifts God wants to give in return for the suffering. God is so very generous. He never asks for us to accept a sacrifice without blessing us in unimaginable ways.

      "May you find your sweet son in Holy Communion, when all of Heaven comes with Jesus...remember what St. Therese said about her mother being nearest to her during Holy Communion?" Patricia, I think of that always! I have already spent time with Thomas during the Easter celebrations!

      I don't know if you ever heard this story... One day a few years ago, Gemma-Rose said, "I know where Thomas is!" We were expecting her to say "In Heaven" or "In the cemetery." What she said was, "In the tabernacle with Jesus." I talked about this with a friend who said theologically Gemma-Rose is right. Where we find God, we find all his saints. Isn't that a beautiful thought?

      I think the one main thought that has been with me over the Triduum is that without experiencing pain ourselves, we can never feel (in our inadequate way) Jesus' pain. If we don't appreciate His pain and suffering, how can we appreciate His love for us? The crucifixion would just be another sad story. So suffering is really a tremendous gift. I think suffering is a gift in other ways too like how it changes us, how it gives us the opportunity to show our love for God, how it allows us to be part of the salvation of souls... But that thought of Jesus' overwhelming love for us... I keep coming back to that!

      Patricia, I am sure I learn far more from you than you ever learn from me! But it is lovely to think we share and help each other along our pathway to Heaven.

      It is Easter Sunday morning. We went to the Vigil Mass last night. It was extra-special because Callum's girlfriend received her First Holy Communion and was confirmed. Two other adults were baptised, and they together with another three adults, were received into the Church. Imogen had the honour of singing the psalms and my mother's heart just overflowed with joy!

      I am home with the younger girls preparing our Easter meal while the rest of the family are at Mass again singing with the choir for the last time this weekend. It has been a wonderful few days. The girls just said, "Today is the best day of the year!" Yes!

      Patricia, I hope you have a very Happy Easter too! Perhaps your son and daughter-in-law are spending the day with you. May God bless you all!

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    2. Sue, thank you for your beautiful response. I was so relieved that you understood where I was coming from. Sometimes words don't always come across as we mean them. But, you knew. You're beautiful, and God has given you a heart and soul much like Therese's...seemingly bottomless with its capacity to give and receive love. I often think how proud Thomas must be of his "mum," as he watches over all over all of you from Heaven.

      Sounds like you had a wonderful Easter. After reading your B post, I'm wondering if headless chickens were on the menu :)

      Yes, we did spend Easter with our son and his wife. They had a crawfish boil and it was just family...my daughter-in-laws brother, wife and two little ones, and my sister and her two grown sons, and of course, my husband and me. Lots of fun, in spite of thunder and lightening bolts!

      God bless you always...and take good care of that future theologian, Gemma-Rose. :) She is wiser than the rest of us.

      Dashing off to adoration....will remember you in prayer. Maybe by tonight, the chicken story will be up. Lots of Easter hugs!

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    3. Patricia,

      Yes, putting thoughts into words in a comment is very difficult but I understood perfectly!

      You are so kind comparing my heart to St Therese's but I have to admit I have a long way to go. Your words, " I often think how proud Thomas must be of his "mum," as he watches over all over all of you from Heaven," have given me something else to think about. I have an idea I'd like to explore further in a post sometime. Really, is there ever an end to the things we can learn from one experience?

      Your Easter Sunday sounded perfect (apart form the weather)! No headless chickens for our dinner. We had roast lamb and mint sauce!

      Thank you so much for your prayers. I am keeping you and your sister in mine. I will be over later to say hello, but just wanted to say I hope your sister is recovering after the car accident.

      God bless!

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  10. Thank you for sharing Thomas's and your story with us. So sad, but so touching. He will forever be loved.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

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    1. Shannon,

      Thank you for stopping by my blog and sharing my son Thomas' story. I appreciate your comment. I look forward to joining you for the A-Z blogging challenge!

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  11. Hi Sue, I wish you and all your family a very blessed Easter season. I hope the sadness you felt last week as you walked with Mary and Jesus, and remembered your own pain, has been transformed into the joy and hope of Easter. Thank you for this touching reflection which has nearly reduced me to tears. Thank you also for the beautiful picture of your gorgeous little boy.

    My mother in law was talking recently about how Mary probably felt as she watched Jesus die. She was probably also thinking "why him? Why me?" Like Jesus in Gethsamene, she had to accept that the Father's will had to be done, no matter how painful it was. And this reflection seemed to link to one I read by Bishop Fisher, that Jesus suffered, not to glorify suffering, but to transform suffering into love- and also, so that through his suffering, we can come to the joy of the Resurrection, and see that there is always hope on the other side of suffering.

    I feel that Thomas, and all other precious babies that die so young and suffer in the process, must have such a special place in heaven. There they all are, saints, praying for us. One day we will be re-united with the lost little ones (and all our other loved ones) and in eternity, we will soon forget that there was ever a time without them.

    But why do babies suffer? That is one I can never come to grips with. When I hear a baby cry in pain I feel like I'm bleeding on the inside. When I think of the little ones aborted I cry. When I think of all little children who have to endure suffering, it's so easy to ask "Why, God?" I can't pretend I have any answer on that.

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    1. Jacinta,

      Happy Easter to you and Stephen and your family!

      Good Friday was very sorrowful but that was expected. I am sure it was the same for everyone who has known suffering. And that is a real gift. To kneel beneath the cross and share Jesus' pain instead of being an observer on the outside is a privilege. I cried and no one else did which was rather inconvenient, but not a problem!

      I felt so hopeless on Friday as if there is no point to life, it's all pain. Then on Saturday we were getting ready for Mass and the whole mood changed. Callum's girlfriend received First Holy Communion and was confirmed at the Vigil Mass. Five other adults entered the Church. I cried again for different reasons! Of course there is hope! After the pain there is joy. I think Lent and Easter are a real gift. They do make us see that we don't suffer alone and that we are loved so very much.

      I am so pleased you feel babies have a special place in Heaven! In many ways I feel Thomas' life was sacrificed for us. Without him dying we wouldn't be the people we are. Every day he affects our lives. That sacrifice must be so valuable. I do believe babies are right there next to Jesus' heart.

      Why do babies suffer? I don't know either, Jacinta. Our instincts are to protect them and sometimes we can't. All I can think is that God needs these babies and they are not little saints at all, but big ones returning grace to the world.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to write so much. Your words have helped me think through my feelings.

      Happy Easter!

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  12. This is very moving. Standing silently by, only allowed to touch his bed...

    I rejoice with you about your son's girlfriend making her First Communion & Confirmation! My son's girlfriend will receive her First Communion & Confirmation on this Sunday, Divine Mercy Sunday.

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    1. Amy,

      Only being able to touch Thomas' bed was very hard.

      What wonderful news about your son's girlfriend! We had a beautiful celebration. I hope you do too.

      God bless!

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  13. Sue, I've been away from blogging for awhile but I have often thought of you. I love your Thomas stories, they are a gift of hope to the world and to me. I hope you never stop sharing their beauty. You are truly united with Mary in the suffering she endured. Thank you for blessing me with your meditation.

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    1. Elizabeth!

      I have been thinking about you so much and praying for you. I am so glad to hear from you!

      Thank you for always being so kind, reading my Thomas stories. I get to the point where I think I have no more to say about him, and then out pops another story. I'm doing the A-Z blogging challenge at the moment and Thomas made it into my very first story. I have 5 more posts planned that could be called grief stories. I hope I am able to find the right words so I can share them.

      I hope you are enjoying the Easter season. May God bless you and your family!

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