A friend of mine posted the above video to Facebook. I knew what it was as soon as I saw it. A reader had sent it my way and said maybe I should think about sharing Myla's story as a way to break the silence.
I'm not there yet. But I am really, really glad that there is a push to get stuff like this out in the open.
When my friend posted this, he said something great: "I didn't realize the prevalence of this event. I love how families are allowing the child to remain a part of their family and honoring her/him at special times - birthday, thanksgiving, christmas and/or other winter holidays. For those who are uncomfortable with sharing this, GET OVER YOURSELF! The child was part of life however briefly, is loved and will always be remembered."
I immediately thought, Right on, we WILL always love and remember them! And of course you didn't realize the prevalence. NO ONE realizes the prevalence because no one talks about it.
I then wondered why. I mean, on a personal level, I know why I don't talk about it. But on a grander scale, there had to be a reason. It hit me, and I commented the following:
Still birth and miscarriage are so taboo in our culture because we have conditioned ourselves to "accept" that life doesn't begin until that child is outside the womb.
I put "accept" in quotes because it's a conditioned belief that isn't a belief so much as it is a justification for the murder of a child.
Because that uneasy "acceptance" of an obvious falsehood doesn't sit well with the public, things like open grieving of life lost within the womb or at birth is taboo since open acceptance of that life causes folks who don't believe in life at conception to confront the validity (or invalidity) of that belief.
And as someone who has experienced condemnation and ridicule for grieving the life of a child considered worthless by society's standards, I can understand why some families choose to suffer in silence - why this topic is rarely spoken of. It's difficult enough to endure losing a child - you don't need people lashing outwards as they struggle with an inward paradigm shift on top of it, ya know?
Just my two cents.
I know this is a good chunk of the reason I keep silent. I'm not ready to handle their emotions on top of my own. I'm not ready to handle the questions or the judgement or even the sympathy that might result from Myla's story being out there amongst family and friends.
But the point of this video is spot on, and I do think the reason so many of us don't speak out more is because our culture - a culture steeped in death and selfishness - cannot accept the grief of parents who prove their misguided stance on life within the womb is not compatible with reality. We are a thorn in their logic.
See that dirty-faced little boy over there with the hair that looks oddly parted to the side?
That's Vincent fresh from the play-yard of his daycare.
I got a call early Thursday morning alerting me to the fact that he'd used his scissors to cut his hair instead of his paper pumpkin.
Instead of freaking out, I just laughed. I asked, "How bad?"
She said, "It's all the way to his scalp, so I guess it's kinda bad."
I replied, "Eh... every kid gets one, I guess. We were growing it out for his Halloween costume, but since he changed his mind, it doesn't matter anymore, anyway."
She was surprised. She said, "You're taking this better than some parents."
I said, "I've been there. At least my son was smart enough to get his self-styled haircuts out of the way as a toddler. As a freshman in high school, I had no excuse."
Ah well. So after work, I took him straight to the barber to get his hair buzzed off. His teacher was right - he cut directly over his scalp, so she had to buzz everything to get regrowth even.
Oh Vincent... *shakes head.*
When I saw his hair falling away in big chunks, my heart sorta sank. Beholding his bald little head, I realized how lucky I was to be in that barber shop voluntarily. So many other kids lose their hair due to illness. Mine was losing his due to curiosity and a misguided sense of independence.
Vincent's would grow back. My heart ached for the children who weren't so lucky.
I couldn't get that image of Vincent out of my head all weekend. His hair is finally starting to come back in, but my prayers were directed in a special way this weekend for childhood cancer victims and their families.
Oh Vincent... my handsome little monkey has a smile that can light up the world regardless of his hair (or lack thereof). May God bless you and keep you, munch. <3
Oh, and no more cutting your own hair. Please. LoL!
I was privileged to witness my little Madison Rose become a princess of the Church on Sunday. Yay!
I got to her mom’s house early enough to catch her still asleep. I snapped a few pre-bath photos because she’s so darn adorable and I simply couldn’t resist.
When she woke up, I got to watch her while mom, Theresa, and dad, John, got ready. I was only too happy to have her all to myself. We played a fun game of peek-a-boo on the floor with her fuzzy blanket, we practiced rolling around both in the crib and on the aforementioned fuzzy blanket, I let her chomp on various fingers because the poor thing is teething something fierce, and finally, I showed her the small figurines of Mary and Jesus I had given to her parents for their wedding.
Then she showed me her Winnie the Pooh light, her swing, and her underwater themed night light that played some really awesome music.
Next, she decided she wanted to chomp on my fingers some more. I happily obliged. :)
Pretty soon, though, it was time to get her gussied up for her big day!
Theresa and I decided to keep her only half-dressed for the ride to the church. After all, her gown was super long, so trying to buckle her into the seat safely would’ve been a problem. We put her in her special onesie (the same design Mary got for Vince 4 years ago!) and a warm pair of pink leggings.
We also decided to put the bonnet on instead of the headband because the bonnet was so cute!
When we got to the church, I quickly slipped the gown over her head while Theresa tied it in the back. I got the honor of carrying her into the church, but before we went in, a bunch of photos were taken by mommy and babci (babci means “grandmother” in Polish).
Once inside, I discovered that the cry room is next to the sanctuary. THE SANCTUARY. How cool is that? Normally the room opposite the sacristy is used for storage of choir stuff. They decked theirs out as a cry room complete with children’s books, pews, and a bathroom. VERY family-friendly! The partition that separated the sanctuary from the cry room was made up of windows. Most of the windows were closed, but two were open (and I think that’s due to their condition… they might’ve been broken). I didn’t mind, but I wondered if the crying children distracted the priests (which was later confirmed by my friend, Frank, who works at the parish).
Ah well. I still love the idea of the children being so close to the Mass. They can see EVERYTHING up close and personal. Besides, I think Jesus would approve of having the kids so close to Him, too.
Madison was great throughout Mass. She barely cried, and when she did, her parents or babci soothed her with a few bounces and all the pretty stained glass.
After Mass, it was time for her baptism! She cried a bit given the fuss of all the guests chattering loudly around her. I was surprised to see how many people were there for the baptisms - four in total. Guests took up the front half of the church. Fr. Ferrier, my Latin teacher from high school, was the presiding minister.
The baptism, itself, was great. Fr. Ferrier explained the different symbols and the importance of Catholic identity. He said the prayers and offered photo opportunities for the families after each individual baptism. I caught a few shots of the chrism blessings which was nice.
I also snapped a photo of Tim, Madison's godfather, holding the lit Baptismal candle. It's a bit grainy, given I was using my iPhone for all these shots. However, I thought that was an important part of her sacrament. We need to remember that we are supposed to act as bearers of Christ's light for her. To be a godparent isn't to feel warm and fuzzy because we've been given a special title since we're such good friends of Mom and Dad. To be a godparent is to be a bearer of Christ's light - a protector of that light for Madison. So I snapped this shot after asking Tim to hold it for us.
I hope to have some more pictures from her Mom soon. I'll likely share some of those, too (assuming Theresa gives me the ok... you'll give me the OK, right?).
So if you guys could shoot a prayer of thanks or two up to Heaven for giving us a brand new little sister in Christ, I'd appreciate it. I'm so proud of this little peanut. She's a sweetie and I can't wait to enjoy this journey alongside her. May the Lord forever bless and keep this little Reese. <3 <3 <3
For someone who hates math as much as I do, my favorite artist is a mathematical genius.
Truthfully, his symmetry and creative outlook on the impossible are what originally drew me to him. Also, he has an uncanny way of making the impossible seem true... of causing two diametrically opposed objects to work together as if they were always intrinsically the same.
So when I think about the dichotomy of secrets, I think of an MC Escher piece.
Because secrets contain a built-in paradox. Half the horses in your mind want nothing more than to keep that secret private. They're content in their stalls, munching on their hay and reflecting on what amounts to be a very personal, intimate matter.
Those other horses, however... they're chomping at the bit and pawing at the stall doors to escape and spread the secret to anyone and everyone who will listen.
My secret? Myla Therese.
Today, Remembrance Day, made me keenly aware of this inner dichotomy. Myla's existence is still mostly unknown. My mother, my SD, you folks and a tiny handful of friends (6 or 7 maybe?) are even aware of what happened. No one else on either side of the family knows, and I don't bring her up to anyone but the closest to me. It's those pesky horses... the half that wants to keep her private and mine - all mine - they're content to sit in their stalls and keep her memory there.
Those other horses, though... sometimes they get creative and find ways of slipping out. A few days ago, I commented on a Facebook thread that was far away from anything my group of friends would ever stumble across. It was a bunch of Catholic moms talking about babies. My friends and family would steer so far away from "Catholic" "mom" and "baby" that they'd be happily on their ways to China so as not to accidentally find themselves in a spot that combined them.
However, what I wasn't aware of was the fact that Facebook doesn't care about that. Facebook took a personal comment on a wall of a group that is "no man's land" to my friends and put it in the newsfeed. In the NEWSFEED.
Everyone then had the chance to see my comment of comfort. It was originally meant to reach out to another mother who had lost her child an felt secluded in her grief. I wanted her to know she wasn't alone, so I said something along the lines of, "I'm the mother of a baby in Heaven, too. Our little saints are playing together on the lap of Our Lady, I bet!"
Several minutes later, I got a private message from a friend of mine. She asked me about the comment and I immediately felt like someone had walked in on me in the shower.
My mind began racing...
If she saw it, who else saw it? Is John going to get these questions from our friends? Is John going to be MAD that I posted this on Facebook? Oh God... did anyone of his family see it? Will anyone else send me questions? What am I supposed to say to this one? And why does Facebook have to notify her that I'd already read the dang question?!
Before bothering to respond to her e-mail, I called John. I explained the situation and asked how he wanted me to handle it. After all, this was a mutual friend. What I said to her had the capacity to reverberate through our friends and back to him. He might not be able to push the situation out of his mind so easily.
His response surprised me. He said, "Answer her however you want to. Whatever makes you feel better because you're the one handling it. I really don't care how you respond."
Now try not to bristle at "I don't care how you respond." I don't think he meant that in a harsh or demeaning way.
I repeated that his family might find out... his Mom. I didn't think she would from that basic exchange, but it was a possibility, and if he still said that he didn't care what I did after thinking about it in those terms (moms tend to paint a black and white picture for us better than most things), I could trust he really meant it.
Apparently he did, because he still gave his stamp of approval even then.
I went back to my computer. How do I respond to her? I didn't know. On the one hand, I wanted so much to tell someone else about Myla's existence, but on the other, I didn't want to share something so personal. I honestly didn't know what to do, so instead of answering her, I went through my newsfeed to clear out any possible reference to miscarriage I could find.
Finally, I went back to her message. I was back in control of my feelings, so I could respond logically. I trusted this particular friend, so I explained in very simple terms that yes, John and I had been expecting in July and I had miscarried around the 5th or 6th week. I also explained that we weren't really making that information public, but I thanked her for sending me the message. It really did mean a lot.
She quickly responded with love and support. I felt better that another person was pulled into the circle that knew Myla existed. She was such a blessing, and I sometimes ache that more people aren't aware of her. However, I do fear what knowledge of her existence would bring.
Questions that I'm ill-equipped to handle. Questions that would make me cry. Questions that would tear me apart and leave me pounding my fists into the floor.
Disbelief that she was real. At 5 or 6 weeks, she's nothing, after all, right? Society tells us she's nothing. Society assures us that my sweet little baby is completely inconsequential.
And the list drags on.
So for today, I reposted a few things and commented on a few others, but I kept my tone ambiguous. Instead of posting Myla's story, I posted things "in solidarity with" or "together with" others who have shouldered this cross. Folks seeing my posts could easily think they were akin to wearing pink in support of breast cancer awareness though I never had it myself. It was my safe way of publicly spreading awareness without opening the door to something I'm not ready to handle.
Again, I know this might come as a surprise to you readers who see my most personal thoughts on a routine basis, but I am just not this forthcoming with many people. Behind the safety of my monitor, I can vent with the knowledge that none of you will ever be able to treat me differently or judge me harshly because of what you read here.
Truth be told, in real life, I'm scared. Very, very scared. I like being in control... in charge... even-keeled. Being upfront about things so sensitive and emotional for me... it's just not something I'm good at. And for as much as those horses want to call out Myla's name from the rooftops and share my experience with other women who might be going through (or will go through) miscarriage, I am not strong enough to handle it at this point. I feel selfish and weak for admitting that, but it's the truth.
I do hope to one day be able to tell other people about Myla. She is a blessing, and I want to share her with others - especially family and friends.
I just don't know when (or if) I'll ever be ready to do so.
For those of you who have endured miscarriage, did you ever tell family/friends? If you did, when and how did you go about doing it?
I spent a pretty good portion of this weekend caught between two worlds. The first was created entirely by you fine folks. My inbox was full of pictures, poems and stories. The depth of love you each testify to cannot be understated. I was so touched and humbled by the images you chose to share. I sorta felt like Frank Warren from Postsecret (or what I assumed he'd feel like). Each item shared was like a tiny peek into the heart and soul of the person who sent it in. My heart was greatly moved by each and every one of you.
I only chose to show names along with the photos. I figure that if you'd like to share your personal stories, you may do so in the comments. I left out last names and birthdays as well (given that many of these children were born into Heaven before ever being born upon earth).
Bless each and every one of you. No doubt these little saints hear our prayers and feel our love. May we constantly feel their pull on our soul as they gently lead us after Christ to our forever home.
Quick heads up...
The blog community CatholicSistas has a Remembrance Day linkup. Check it out and participate there!
Michelle at Liturgical Time is hosting a Jesse Tree ornament swap.
I was excited to take part for the following three reasons:
By the time I'd gotten wind of the swap, many of the "good" ones were taken. Determined to make the most of my "do something crafty" point, I ran through the list for the most boring sounding ornament of all. I found it in Zechariah. Suggested symbols were pencil and paper. In my mind, it doesn't get much more boring than that. So I e-mailed Michelle and asked if she'd be kind enough to put me in for good old Zechariah so long as no one else had claimed him (not that I was even slightly worried he was taken, 'cause again... who takes Zechariah when there are cool folks like Adam, Eve, Noah, Elijah and Mary to choose from?).
When Michelle wrote me back and gave me the green light, I felt a quick pang. "Uh oh. It's official. Other folks are counting on me to come up with something that isn't gonna suck. Now what?"
I did a quick Pinterest search for Zechariah. Did a quick Google search. Did a quick check back on Michelle's page to see if I could grab someone else because, thus far, nothing on Zechariah looked at all appealing.
I stopped myself, though. I wanted to stick to my guns. I'm creative, gosh darn it! I could come up with something fun that embodies the theme of anticipation and summarizes Zechariah's place on the Jesse Tree. I could! I definitely could. Maybe. Hopefully.
So I thought about it for a bit. Zechariah's best known for being struck mute upon disbelieving that God would deliver a son to his wife, Elizabeth, and he. Given they were both older, he was incredulous. In fact, Zechariah wasn't able to speak again until little John the Baptist was born. While everyone was running around demanding that his son be named after Zechariah, mute Zechariah finally regained use of his voice to affirm the child's name as decreed by God.
How could I capture that?
Cue the Holy Spirit.
No, seriously. Circle pouch. I thought of a little zippered coin pouch that could serve as Zechariah, himself. I did a quick tutorial search and found this by Erin Erickson:
Pretty snazzy, right? She's got some cool stuff that way - go check her out!
Anywho, this looked simple enough. I figured I'd just modify the zipper portion so it was lower, put a "hanger ribbon" in place of the keyring, and slap some googly eyes on brown felt fabric to make Zechariah's face. Zippered shut signified his silence while opened up would signify his ability to speak. In addition to this unzippered mouth, I was contemplating a way to have a ribbon come out and be able to fold back into the pouch that said, "His name is John."
Well, I finally sat down to try my hand at this little pouch today. Since I wanted to get my students (and craft friends) involved, I wanted to hammer out the process. Thank God I did, 'cause I was a flat out disaster! Seriously. Disaster. Take a look at this sexy thing:
Go ahead and recoil in horror. Scream. Cry a little inside. That's what I did. In fact, when I showed my husband, he said, "That might just be the worst thing I've ever seen. Ever."
Alrighty then. So my little Frankenstein wasn't gonna cut it. I cannot sew in a circle, and the creepy little button eyes were getting to me. So I decided to go a sewing-free route. It took a few trial-and-error runs, but eventually, I got Zechariah looking a little more human:
And since I still wanted the anticipation of "opening his mouth" to be something the kids could look forward to when they used this little ornament year after year, I kept the creepy "John" ribbon and made it look a little less creepy:
Eventually I'll put a step-by-step up here for anyone interested in doing this little craft themselves. I'll save you the trouble of that first monstrosity. ;)
So far, though, most folks are tickled by the idea behind this ornament. Everyone loves pulling his mouth open to see "John" slide out, and it slides right back in again with the tug of the top part of the ribbon (that you can use to hang it). For kids, they'll look forward (with anticipation!) to opening Zechariah's mouth and hearing the story of how John the Baptist got his name. For adults, it'll hopefully be a good teaching tool in sharing the story of trusting in the goodness and power of God.
Now, I've got five made (sans that little monster face). Only 27 more to go (and I'll have the help of my students and a few craft-friends). WOO HOO!
Hi all. I'd like to do something special for Remembrance Day on October 15th this year.
I honestly didn't know what Remembrance Day was until I lost Myla this year. Several of you wonderful readers informed me that this date was recognized as a day of memorial so that other folks like myself could get together and acknowledge the love and grace these little blessings brought to us in the short time they existed in this world.
As such, I want to do something to recognize these little lives and give heart hugs to the families still coping with such heart-wrenching loss.
My idea is simple. I'd like to collect the names of these little children as well as one photo either of these children, or a photo that captures your feelings, and with them, I'd like to create a slideshow memorializing them.
If you're interested, simply send me an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
In the e-mail, please contain your child's name and the photo that you would like to appear with it. I'd like to complete this by October 14th, so please get those submissions in soon. Thanks!
Update: Submissions closed.
I was looking for a new book for Vincent the other day when I came across Press Here by Herve Tullet on sale at Walmart. It was listed as a NYT bestseller.
A kids' book?
Color me curious.
So I picked it up and paged through it. IMMEDIATELY I understood why it was such a hit. This concept is brilliant, and it provides a perfect backdrop to get kids interested and excited about reading.
The concept is simple. Kids are active. They like to learn by play. What better way to learn "reading" than to get them "reading" with their hands?
A little yellow dot is our main character, but the true protagonist is your finger! The text coaxes you in easy language to "press," "shake" and "tilt" the book in various ways. Each time you do so, you see the result of such actions on the next page.
Vincent really thought he was somewhat magic as the dots changed colors, multiplied and moved as the pages flipped by.
For an SPD kid like Vince, this is a PERFECT way to get him to sit still and read through a full story because it allows him to experience tactile sensation as he follows the prompts. I wish I had a video of him screeching, laughing and clapping with joy each and every time we read. Without fail he asks for it at least twice (many times more) and has yet to be bored of it. In fact, he tries to read it on his own now, and I can tell he's picking up some of the words based on repetition. What's not to love?
And the fun doesn't end there. Press Here has become so popular that apps have been created. I downloaded a free one onto the iPad so he can take the fun with him without ripping the pages in an overly enthusiastic turn.
I highly recommend it - especially for children like Vince who can use the extra sensory boost.
It's pricey, but if you can find one used / on sale (like I did), it's worth EVERY.SINGLE.PENNY.
Now I've gotta try to snag a video of Vince reading through it next time. The trailer below fails to capture the pure joy these kids get out of the book. :)
Vincent's been on a big "hero" kick lately. Instead of calling himself a hero, though, he's always saying to me, "Mommy, you my hero! Thank you SO SO much!"
I'll then say "You're MY hero, Vincent!"
He'll follow up with, "Yeah. I really your hero! I love you so much."
I really hope, in his mind, he equates being a hero with how much you love someone. In truth, he's exactly right.
I attended the baby shower of a friend of mine today. He became a dad several weeks early. He and my sister were gunning for preemie bragging rights, I think, because his daughter was born in similar circumstances as Maria's son. Thankfully, both of them are fighters and are well on their way to fattening up enough to come home.
God is good!
Today was my friend's shower. He and his wife came with photos of their daughter in the NICU. Of course she's beautiful! :) Please keep them in your prayers. We'll all be very relieved when they're ALL home safe and sound.
As for the shower, it was a surprising experience for me.
The entire way there, I was nervous. I was afraid of facing a baby shower for a little girl. I didn't know if I was "there" yet. I was super happy for Jen and Leo, but I can admit that I am painfully aware that Myla never had a shower and will never have family and friends gathered to celebrate her.
Before you chide me for my selfishness, I already get it. I felt guilty enough for even allowing myself to go down that road. I'm being honest, though. I was nervous because I wasn't sure if seeing all the pink balloons, baby clothes and baby things would overload me.
I was one of the very first people there. The place was adorably decked out in pink and purple balloons. "It's a Girl" posters were everywhere, and the tables had cute little bookmarks made with their daughter's birthday and stats. Immediately I realized none of my friends had yet made their entrance.
I sent out a text. Dear God, let them be two seconds away! I can't do this by myself!
To my horror, none of my friends were actually attending. They sent me messages back with varying degrees of "I have other plans."
My heart actually sank and I contemplated turning around and leaving right then and there. I couldn't face this all by myself - not without a friend or two to talk about anything and everything to keep me from the pity-party brewing in my heart.
But no. I quietly took a seat at an empty table. Especially knowing that our other friends weren't coming, I couldn't leave Leo to think that none of us was there to celebrate with him. So I sucked it up as best I could and braced for impact. I begged God to take away my selfish grief and replace it with a magnification of the true joy I had for Leo, Jen and their little Maggie.
I stayed in my secluded little spot for about 10 minutes as other people trickled in. God was kind, because He sent my cousin's girlfriend as one of the attendees. She and I aren't close (mostly because we never see one another), so she was the perfect person to snap me into "Happy Gina" mode. Since I'm not comfortable enough to share personal details, my "auto-wall" went up and I slid into my "Everything is great, how are you?" game. She's an actress, so my guess is that happens frequently with her, too. Regardless, it was exactly the situation I needed to survive that moment.
Pretty soon, most guests had arrived. My originally silent table had grown to encompass all of Jen's friends. My cousin's girlfriend knew many of them from theater, so by the time Jen and Leo finally arrived, the table was so full that I was able to quietly excuse myself and sit with Leo, his best friend, Adam, and Adam's girlfriend. Adam is an old friend of mine through my husband, so again God afforded me a great person to focus on so I didn't have time to dwell on any vestige of a pity party. I really enjoyed spending the next two hours catching up with Adam and getting to know his girlfriend a bit better.
When it was time to leave, I was able to go with with a sense of gratefulness and pride. Grateful, of course, that I'd been able to stay to celebrate with Leo and Jen. Grateful, also, that God had sent me two key people to help me cope with what could have been a really difficult experience. Pride, finally, that I'd made the decision to stick it out. I really am proud that I was somehow able to make it through that shower intact and truly happy. I felt no bitterness or envy, no jealousy or anger regarding the gift of their child. On the contrary, God gave me what I requested - a magnified joy and a deep appreciation since I knew that Maggie wasn't just a gift for them... she was a gift for the world.
This handsome dude is my brother. He's about 2 years older than me, and growing up, I wanted to be just like him. Maybe a little taller. ;)
I thought he was cool, funny, and smart (in a witty sort of way). I thought he had cool friends, listened to cool music, and was all around awesome.
I think many of my own developed personality traits are shadows of what I perceived his to be. I would always try to mimic the qualities in him that I liked so I could have them, myself.
Funny thing is, he absolutely loathed me - likely because I was the annoying little sister who wouldn't leave him to himself. He would torture me to no end, and I happily took it in stride. I'd dish it back to him now and again, but I mostly just accepted that he treated me like a jerk because of how much I tried to hang around him.
I was a sophomore in high school when he went off to college. He still lived at home, but at that point, I'd found my own groove with my own set of friends and didn't feel the need to siphon off his personality anymore. I'd come into my own, figured out who I was and wanted to be, so Ray no longer had to peel me off himself like some sort of diseased leper.
In fact, I, myself, was rarely home anymore. That, coupled with my personal family dynamic, allowed me to grow radically distant from my siblings (with the exception of my younger sister, Maria, with whom I always fostered a good relationship).
Fast forward about 8-9 years. I was out of college and getting ready for marriage to John. I'd reconnected with a friend of my brother's who began confiding in me and building a relationship outside of Ray. As a result of our new relationship, I began hanging out with my brother when the two of them would see one another at bars and such. Given the terrible relationship my brother and I shared due to the 8-9 years of strained communication, it was interesting to "meet him" all over again with friends - absent of our immaturity and familial dynamic.
As a result, the change to our relationship was instantaneous. We no longer felt the need to retreat from dialogue. He didn't see me as an annoying, snotty twit, and I didn't see him as a pompous jerk who treated me unfairly. It was refreshing, and I relished this change. I once again had my big brother back and we could share laughs over childhood experiences and talk about actual issues we both routinely faced (whether work-related, family-related or otherwise).
I guess the fact that I brought John to the table didn't hurt. My husband (then boyfriend) clicked with him almost instantly.
Anyway, again fast forward a few more years. I'm pregnant with Vince and I get to share news that he's an Uncle. The amount of sports clothing and toys that he excitedly got for Vincent is ridiculous. He's a big Flyers fan, so Vince had the PJs, the jackets, the shirts - even pants with the logo on it. He supported Vince (and therefore, me) when the in-fighting broke out over how our sister was treating Vincent. It felt good to be defended in that way. To have him protect Vincent, myself and John in that manner was such a change given how easily I'd been thrown under the bus by my family in the past.
To them I was the "bad child." Frankly, I was the same to Ray for a really long time because no one ever tried to learn if the gossip they spread amongst themselves was even true or not. However, now that Ray was in the mix and had allowed himself to get to know me and see for himself who I was as a person, he brought that common sense back to the family. As a result, folks weren't so easily able to just write me off as being a terrible individual worthy of constant disdain and disrespect.
That was such a transitional time for my family and I, and much of it has to do with him. A lot also sprang from my mother and I reaching common ground once I'd moved out upon marrying John, but I do attribute the new dynamics of the family moreso to my brother who acted as gate-keeper to folks seeing me not as the terrible person they assumed I was, but as the person I ACTUALLY was. Doubtful he even realizes that.
For example, before things with Ray developed, I was routinely neglected from family events. I can't even tell you how many times I found out about baptisms and birthday parties AFTER they'd already happened. It was so frustrating. Excuses I'd get ranged from, "Oh, we just thought you'd be busy that day" to "Well, so-and-so thought you might embarrass them."
It's funny now, because as I sat in the hospital room with my brother and sister as we kept her company waiting for Isaac, the two of them reminisced about things as if I already knew about them. I had to keep reminding them over and over again that I didn't actually remember any of it because I was ostracized from the group. I missed out on several years of relationships, anecdotes and shared experiences, but given how good our relationships are now, they tend to forget that. In a lot of ways, I guess that's a good thing because it just shows how much things have changed for the better.
And in that hospital room, as I watched how he looked after Maria and took care of her and kept her entertained and busy so she didn't worry so much about Isaac, I was reminded again just how lucky I am to have him in my life.
Obviously I feel that way about a bunch of people, but reminders like this are always welcome so I can say a quick prayer of thanks for the folks in my life who really count.
It made me appreciate the unthinkable changes that have gone on in my life in such a short span of time. And these changes... they really were at one time unthinkable for me.
But God is good. These changes have been wonderful and joyous and appreciated. When I mused this aloud to a friend of mine who has seen (and felt) this transition with me first hand, she actually said, "Geez - it makes me wonder why you are so insistent that Vince have siblings."
I laughed, because I understand her point. But I also understand that my experience is not normal - by ANY stretch of the imagination. Only recently have things evened out to a level of normal that I never knew. And again, seeing how well Maria was looked after by myself, my brother, and our other two sisters (there are five of us), I sorta hurt a little for Vincent because should he ever be in that situation, he won't have those siblings to give him the support that we gave (together with our mother, obviously) to Maria. That makes me sad, and I again wonder about how this will effect him later in life.
But that's another issue for another day. This entry gets dedicated to my brother for being awesome.
He's still the funny, cool and smart guy I knew he was way back when. He's still someone I can admire and appreciate, rely on and love.
So take a moment today to be thankful for the folks in your life who are awesome. Say a prayer of thanks for them, because each has been a blessing to you... a little kiss from God to remind you that He loves you enough to make sure these gems are in your life.
Here she is! Notice anything different about her?
Sure she's got a crown of flowers, and the ones placed in front of her are a little wilted, but take a closer look at the statue, itself.
Not sure yet? Here... let me give you a different angle. That should clear things up a bit!
If you haven't gotten it yet, I'll give you one more hint.
I took this picture directly behind my sister's room as she stayed on bed rest in the maternity ward. The wall behind Our Lady has my sister's bed behind it.
With that in mind, take a look at Our Lady's belly. Go ahead. Note the full curve of Life within her womb.
I've never seen a pregnant OLO Grace before. Never! Go figure there'd be one at this beautiful Catholic hospital that my sister found herself in.
As soon as I saw her, I knew I wanted to share her with you. She's just so beautiful! And the fact that this particular artist wanted to capture her as the expectant Mother of God is just.. I about died a hundred times as I fell over and over in love with her.
I adored that she was tucked away behind my sister as she kept Isaac safe within her for as long as she did, supporting her "unseen" even though we all knew she was there.
I'm just a complete sucker for stuff like this. Granted, I'm a complete sucker for Our Lady, but I count that as a plus. We should all be suckers for her.
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