Healing After The Loss Of A Child: There Are Roses Growing In My Soul
roses home because surely Our Lady didn't need those stupid flowers anyway, but I knew better. So, holding fast to my unspoken anger and searing sorrow, I grabbed the scissors and I cut all five of those opened roses. Hurriedly, I stuck them into a vase as the family waited in the van. It was an internal tug-of-war for me, but I knew I had to give them all, so silently I did.
At the same time the roses were busy in the front yard, the climbers in the Marian garden were also joining in. The whole Marian garden was filled with the colors of red roses, orange Day Lilies and white Easter Lilies. During the time we were waiting for Matthew's delivery, I remember thinking at least the garden was ready for his arrival. It brought me some solace to consider this tiny family graveyard would be well decorated when it came time for his funeral.
Perhaps, even more fitting that after we laid Matthew's hand-sized coffin in the ground, the blooms died and roses stopped appearing.
You might imagine my surprise and delight weeks later when beloved friends brought us a new rose bush in memory of Matthew. They had no idea of my rituals. And it wasn't until days later when I asked my little ones to prepare a spot in the front yard, that I read the tag. This bush was a John Paul II commemorative rose bush, and we all know whom he had great devotion to.
So, sometime in June we were gifted with this new plant that was nothing more, seemingly, than a stick with roots in a pot. I was thrilled to have a tangible, continuing sign of Matthew's brief, earthly life and I figured that if I was lucky, or more rightly blessed, we might see Matthew's roses in a year or two.
Perhaps, I'm just garden-ignorant (okay, I am, there is no perhaps about it) but I didn't understand when Greg told me that the bush was growing not even a month later. Finally, I saw those first tiny, red leaves for myself, but still I didn't believe. When Greg mentioned that buds were appearing, I simply ignored what he was telling me.
In truth, I liked the idea of a bare stick jutting out of the ground. I wanted it to remain bare and to hide its growth from sight for a year or two. I wanted that rose bush to mirror the way I felt, ugly and unproductive. Time was necessary, lots of time, for that bush to bloom and for me to start the process of healing, but God had other plans again. He often does.
Without my consent, that stump grew its leaves and then it had the temerity to produce a single white blossom. Unwilling to relinquish my denial, I allowed that pure, white flower to turn brown without much more than a fleeting glance from me. The bush, however, isn't dependent on my will to make it grow or not, so it continued to defy me.
In the course, of these many trials I have wrestled with what I perceived as an inability to pray and a test of my faith. In the weakest moments, I've cried out, "My God, why have You abandoned me?" Listening for the answer, I've heard nothing.
Having given those five roses to Mother, I've felt unable to give her anything more or even to ask for her intercession. Adoration and Mass have brought me comfort and temporary peace, but inside an emptiness has remained. A small prayer formed from this loneliness, in which I simply say, "Here I am Lord, I am empty. I have nothing left to offer, but I am Your's. Fill up my emptiness with Yourself."
A recent gospel reading ended with the command, "Whoever has ears ought to hear" which might also include whoever has eyes ought to see. Today I realized that I have been watching God's love bloom in my yard and in my empty places. He did not need my conscious consent. He was not dependent on me to feed Him. My soul is a rose bush planted in His Divine Marian garden and He has fed me with His word, nurtured me with His love and caused my heart to bloom with hope.
He used my affinity for these simple creations of His to teach me. Like the parables He used to explain the kingdom to His disciples, so are the rose bushes He is using to help me to understand.
There is one tiny white rose in bloom right now on Matthew's bush and another bud due to burst. The bushes that began my ritual have decided their rest is over and they, too, are ripe with buds. I'm not sure that my time of mourning has fully ended, but I understand that my roots are planted deeply in faith. And God's love has the power to transform my ugly emptiness into something beautiful and fruitful.
Tara K. E. Brelinsky is a home schooling mother of seven living children, with six more heavenly ones who intercede. Married to her childhood sweetheart, they make their home in North Carolina where they teach Natural Family Planning, grow a garden, raise two dogs, a cat and a bunch
of chickens. Tara studied journalism a lifetime ago in college, but now she writes for the the glory of God.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: miscarriage, healing, redemptive suffering, spirituality, Tara K. E. Brelinsky
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