It has been 5 agonizing years since we lost William. There isn’t a day that goes by where my heart doesn’t long for him. I often feel guilty that out of the 14 children I have lost, he remains constant on my mind. I suppose it was the manner in which I lost him that makes it so hard to heal. It’s not that I don’t mourn the rest… I do. I often recite each of their names and think of how old they would be and what they would be like. While my heart cries for them, I think of the love that surrounded each of them from the moment of their conception to the moment they died. They knew nothing but love. This gives me a tremendous amount of peace and comfort.
But William, William… my tiny son who was taken so violently and mercilessly from me; whose life was cast aside and who was not seen as having worth. I can’t separate his birth from his death and the injustice that comes with it. While he was enveloped by my love from the moment of his conception to the moment of his death, he also experienced the cruelty of the world. I think this why his loss torments my heart so.
This entire year has been difficult for our family. We have faced hurdles and hardships the whole year through. As we have moved closer and closer to this day, William’s birthday, the weight of the world has seemed to rest squarely on my shoulders. It has been hard to even catch my breath. Knowing today was looming ahead made it even harder to accept the trials that beseech our family. Haven’t we been through a lifetime of pain and suffering? How much can one woman and her family take? I have cried out to God asking Him to lighten my burdens and to grant me mercy and hope.
I wanted to curl up today in bed and spend the day crying. I didn’t. Life goes on and even in the midst of our agony and our sorrow we have to keep moving forward. Somedays it still seems like I take one step forward and two steps back. But still, I move. And I trust. I trust that God will see us through the times when it would be easier just to give up. I face the problems we encounter, I accept my sufferings, and I pray that they will make me stronger, more faithful, and eventually a saint.
My heart aches every day, but today it aches uncontrollably. My mind is flooded with the images and sounds of day we lost William. I hear over and over again the nurse telling us repeatedly, “We have no room for you.” I feel the contractions and I relive the pain of birth and even worse the pain of knowing our son has died. I see my hands stained with blood. It is overwhelming and all-consuming.
I am thankful for my faith as it carries me through the darkest moments of my life. I have no idea how those without faith and the hope of heaven get through times like these. If I thought I would never see my children again I’m not sure I could get through the day.
I’ve heard it said that when you see a cardinal it means a loved one is visiting you. I have no idea if that is true of not but yesterday we had a Mass said in William’s honor. As we returned home, a cardinal was sitting in the bush by our front steps. We don’t see many cardinals around our house so this was unusual. He flitted around a bit and then flew off. It brought me a moment of peace and hope.
When someone we love dies, they take a piece of our heart to heaven with them. After experiencing so much loss, I am amazed to think of all the pieces of my heart already in heaven. One day I look forward to having my heart restored. All the pieces will fit together once again. Until that day I will continue to pray, to hope, and to trust in God’s love and mercy.
Happy birthday, William. I love you more than I can say.
2 thoughts on “The Pieces of My Heart”
I’ve had you on my mind all day…I, too, remember the horror of your birth with him. Even back then, I couldn’t help but think about the way your experience mirrored Joseph and Mary: there is no room for you here. Like Jesus, William was driven to be born in humble, even degrading circumstances because humanity was so callous. (You realize that Joseph was requesting shelter from his kinsmen in Bethlehem and that given the utmost importance of hospitality in the Middle East, the refusal was likely due to condemnation for his pregnant-despite-being-a-consecrated-virgin wife.) Like Jesus, I wonder how many of those nurses who were so unwelcoming did so out of judgment? “Here’s an older woman with a slew of kids already–she should know better than to be pregnant again.” Or maybe they were genuinely overwhelmed and didn’t realize how dismissive they were of you and your child. Either way, your son was given the privilege of having his birth parallel Our Savior’s…and you have been given the privilege of keenly understanding Our Mother’s pain that her beautiful Son deserved better upon his entrance into this world. I know that none of this takes away the ache in your heart, dear sister. But we must take hope in the fact that this separation from our sons is but temporary and that in heaven, we’ll hold our precious lost children forever. St. William and St. Ben, pray for your mothers to have hearts of peace as we remember you this Christmas.
Thank you, Misty. I love you and am so thankful for your wisdom and your friendship. Sts. Ben and William, pray for us! ❤