I've been struggling with whether or not I wanted to write this post. I really don't want to, but of course I feel like I have to. I almost let my feelings slide into unspoken thoughts, then I read this beautiful post over at Mommy Miracles, and felt again the words bubbling to the top, demanding a voice. So here are my few words, the result of the desperate cry of my heart, imperfectly cobbled together in hopes of finding a little peace outside my own head.
On Friday, I did not lose a child, or a sister, or a parent. On Friday, my children did not lose their sense of safety. On Friday, my family did not become the center of media attention, or become the center of a debate on security, gun control, or support for mental health. My little world stayed very much the same. My children continued on in blissful ignorance. And yet here I am, my heart broken, tears rolling down my cheeks without warning, aching for the way the world felt on Thursday. I have been struggling to tear my eyes away from news media and have been escaping into silly movies, cuddles with my children, and fervent prayer. As a parent I keep finding myself drawn into the vacuum of grief so visible on the faces of the parents enduring a tragedy no parent should ever endure. Children the same age as my daughter should not know the terror these children endured.
What can I do when death knocks on the door, and leaves its cold streaks across my heart? I did the only thing I could for my own heart, and for the hearts of the families who are spending the end of Advent not preparing for the birth of Christ, but for the funeral of a loved one. I prayed. I prayed alone. I prayed with friends. I took my kids to the Church and we prayed.
At my parish, we have a Pro-Life Holy Hour the third Saturday of every month. As I tried to lead our prayers over the clatter and chatter of 5 little kids (4 of them mine of course), I could feel the veil lifting. Our chapel holds the Tabernacle, which is on a pedestal on a platform step higher than the rest of the room. The platform is big enough for an adult to have access to the ciborium holding Jesus in safety inside. This also means the platform is more than big enough for 5 kids aged 5 and under to crawl up and sit together. The kids were drawn to the Tabernacle, even the little 1 year olds. They didn't know what we were there for, or why some of the grown ups were crying. They just knew we were there to be with Jesus. So they went and hung out with Jesus, saying their little prayers and laughing together in perfect communion. At one point, I couldn't help but remark that this was what Heaven looked like on Saturday. A crowd of little kids, their cares washed away, looking down from the heights at their parents with happy smiles, in peace in the presence of God. We adults watched with a sense of joy and sadness, turning out prayers to those left behind, but comforted by the knowledge that their children and ours are welcome with God, that they are His beloved children too. Our kids only belong to us for their lifetime, but they are God's first and always.
Since Saturday morning, whenever I feel the darkness stealing its way back into my heart, I think back on that moment. A sweet taste of bliss and a comfort. My prayer today is that the families experience the real, unfathomable, heartbreaking loss of their children, sisters, and parents, can feel this grace that God gave me today. I pray He finds some way into their hearts to heal them.