I have been thinking a lot lately about Matthew and Grace, probably because their anniversaries are just a few days away. Matthew has been in heaven for 8 years now, Grace for 4. It’s not that I’m only now thinking about them – I always think about them – only today I really needed to give voice to my feelings. I think there is a temptation to count ones treasures as those that have been entrusted to our care here. I know I sometimes fall prey to this. But aren’t we supposed to lay up our treasures in heaven? My job is to get these children God has given me to heaven – check and check! Whew! Two made it! But it doesn’t mean that I stop thinking of them as part of my family. They bring me such joy – in much the same way that Sweet Pea does when she brings me a handful of wildflowers or Sparkly curls up around me for a snuggle or Peanut tells me “I yuv yew.” The joy of my two children in heaven is found in the sweetness of their crosses. And their crosses are very sweet to me. What is painful is when they are not remembered! When they are thought of as a speedbump in our family – something that happened briefly, slowed us down, and is now behind us. I love to remember, to go back in my mind, to make those crosses (both painful and sweet) present to my self again.
Matthew’s cross in particular was difficult to carry. How I wanted to keep him. How I longed to have this special child as a part of our visible family. That was not God’s plan though. Instead, through Matthew, He opened up the ocean of His mercy and let it rain down on me again and again. It was tangible to me. He allowed me to feel this child growing and kicking. What a gift! I could feel the heaviness of the cross pressing down upon me, but I could also feel immense joy. It was not confusing. It was other-worldly. Matthew was never meant to stay, but the time I had him was so grace-filled. He allowed me to feel pain without being afraid of it.
Grace’s short life was another blessing entirely. We were not allowed to feel her growing within me. She was the fruit of such extraordinary love though. Through her intercession I am convinced that love has been known more fully and life lived more abundantly between my husband and I and through our family.
Both of our children in heaven act now as intercessors for this family, and we are so greatly in need of their prayers and intercession. Growing in this garden we have been planted in is not easy. Weeds are abundant and threaten to choke out life. There are temptations – discouragement, loneliness, isolation. I like to imagine Matthew and Grace strolling through our little family garden pulling weeds joyfully.
Through Matthew and Grace I became aware of the immeasurable privelege of being a woman – the privelege of cooperating with the Giver of Life in such an awesome way – the distinct gift of feeling life growing and developing – the extraordinary gift of being invited to stand next to the mother of God at the foot of the cross and experience with her the holy sorrow that is giving up your child.