Saturday, April 27, 2013

We're going to need some balloons!

Easter Sunday 2013
I can hardly believe it finally happened.  Grammy finally said "good bye" to her old body went on to celebrate her eternal life with Jesus, my grandpa, Pope John Paul II, and Mother Theresa.  (Just a few of her favorite people who have been waiting for her.)

My mom had called yesterday morning to say that Grammy was really struggling and that they were taking her to the ER.  After a few hours, Mom said that there was nothing the doctors could do and so they were taking her back to the home for end of life care.  Now, this is at least the third or fourth time we've been told Grammy's death was eminent, so there was a lot of "are you sure this is the end?"  At 3 am, last night she passed in her sleep.

We decided to have Jamie buried with Grammy.  So today I went with my mom to the funeral home and tucked my baby's remains safely in Grammy's arm.  It seems so fitting because, when I was pregnant with Tyler, she told me, "If you have a miscarriage, be sure to save have it baptized."

Random things I want to remember about Grammy:

She was a math teacher and I distinctly remember her teaching me how to write the number "5."  I can see her writing a large five on a big paper in her kitchen. "Short line down, circle clockwise, pick up the pencil and add the flag."

She often took the six of us grand kids who lived in town to parks, beaches, our lake cabin, and to rummage sales. She also was the one who stayed with the six of use at our lake cabin when it was "our week."  The cabins were rented for the rest of the summer. We always had peaches, nectarines and plums.

When we stayed at her house, we had cereal for a bed time snack, air popped popcorn and chewable Shaklee vitamins.  She also made sure we placed our shoes neatly by our bed, ready in case there was a fire.

When my great grandma died she made sure there were balloons to celebrate her entrance into heaven. There had to be balloons.

She was my first employer.  We helped clean the cabins on Saturday mornings to prepare for the next week's guests. I was paid a nickel to shake the rugs, a dime to sweep the floors, a quarter to make the bed, etc.

She was often at our school and around at the church and was not shy about admonishing kids who were causing trouble.

Much to our horror, she was not shy about asking our friends about their religious beliefs and exhorting them to do good.

She would often refer to my grandpa as "her boyfriend."  "I'm having lunch with my boyfriend." Giggle, giggle.   I think she was making fun of our teenage silliness.

She suffered through seven years of infertility and wished she would have had more kids.  One day, when I told her I was going to visit my friend who had just had her sixth or seventh baby, she went and got a $50 dollar bill "...for the kids I never had."

When she and my grandpa were first married, they went hunting together. My grandpa was late in collecting her from her post but she didn't mind. She had a pocket full of Snickers bars.

She often reminded me to be respectful, kind, and thankful to my mother-in-law.  She would say, "She gave you her son."  She felt badly that she hadn't gotten along better with her mother-in-law.  She also expressed regret over sneaking out the back stairs when she knew her stepmother needed help at home.

She remembers selling papers.  Because she was a cute little girl, people would buy from her. Apparently, she was a chubby little girl too.  When she was about three, she was dressed in a fancy outfit for a family photo.  The cuffs had to be cut open into order for her chubby little legs to fit. :)

When she was three, her mother died and she was placed in an orphanage with her brother. When her father remarried, he came back for them.  I wonder if that loss effected her in ways she never really understood or talked about.

When Gammy came to visit us at the old house, she would often arrive just in time to watch/say the rosary on EWTN.

Grammy had the girls in giggle fits one day as they had a little blanket that they were swinging and singing rock-a-by baby and then letting the little animals fall. She found fun little ways to play with the kids even though she was mostly confined to her chair.

We've enjoyed going to Mass on Saturday nights with Grammy.  One Saturday night, Tali knew that my mom had taken Grammy to get her hair done, so when she saw Grammy, she reached up and patted Grammy's hair and said, "Pretty."  Grammy said, "Oh, do you like my hair?" Such a precious interaction.

One Saturday, Grammy was a bit agitated and some of the little kids ended up next to her.  Because her hearing is bad, she kept saying "sit down" very loudly.  We tried to keep the little kids on the other end of the pew for a while after that.  Lately, she hasn't seemed bothered by their movements.

I enjoyed sitting next to her.  There was so much she couldn't remember, couldn't see, couldn't hear, and couldn't comprehend, but she could participate in the Psalms that she has memorized, the songs and the responses in the Mass.  That's the value of united, repetitive prayer.  My three year old daughter and my 93 year old grandma could participate together.

It's sure going to feel strange to not have her sitting at the end of the pew on Thursday when we all gather together to celebrate her life and birthday into heaven.

And there has to be balloons.  Perhaps 21 of them for all of her great-grandchildren...

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Private Pain, Public Policy

The story about Dr. Kermit Gosnell's has appeared on my Facebook news feeds several times over that last few weeks.  I appreciated the warning about containing graphic descriptions.  I did not want to read it. I did not want to be reminded that everyday there are babies dying in abortion clinics and hospitals because of  a woman's decision. Babies older than my baby. Much older.  And yet we are not supposed to grieve for these babies. Or even call them babies.

I do grieve for these babies and their mothers.  I have been comforted by the vision of my grandpa holding my baby close.  One night I was thinking of those babies who die without having a welcoming committee in heaven. Then it occurred to me, that every baby who dies by abortion, regardless of how the mother views or acknowledges them, every baby is welcomed by grandpas, grandmas, aunt, uncles, cousins, or maybe even siblings.  They do have family in heaven to greet them. And that made me even more sad.  There is no such thing as an unwanted baby.  So many of these babies have family here on earth who would grieve over their loss, if only they had known about them.

It seems there is a concerted effort to minimize the significance of unborn babies by calling them products of conception or tissue or fetuses.  Yet why do I grieve for my child?  Does my child have significance simply because I say so?  Does my baby have more value than child who is conceived at an inopportune time to an unprepared mother?

It was so hard for me to post about our loss.  I felt like I had to because we had posted so publicly that we were expecting.  But I thought about those people who might not understand our sadness or might not think our sadness was justified because I knew where they stood on issue of abortion laws.  At the same time, I don't really think pro-choice people are heartless and would ever say, "You shouldn't be sad because it wasn't a baby."  It is a strange disconnect.

I have been honored through sharing my loss, to hear the stories of other women who have also lost babies through miscarriage or still-birth.  It is often in private messages or hushed tones.  Women grieve the loss of their unborn babies but they usually don't feel safe sharing the depth of that loss except with other women who have been through it.  I can only imagine what women go through who have had abortions.  Their bodies go through the same intensive hormonal stuff that mine did but yet I'm sure they don't feel safe to talk about their feelings of loss and sorrow for fear of judgement or condemnation.

Yes, my heart breaks for the women of abortion. A women who chooses abortion, much like a woman who makes an adoption plan, does not do so for flippant or trivial reasons.  Perhaps she feels she has no choice, no hope, no support.  We don't expect mothers who place their child for adoption to forget about her child and never grieve for them.  It is all very sad. It is a big problem. One that I don't even know how we could begin to fix but we could start by calling them babies and allowing women to grieve.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A little Julia to make us all smile

I'm very excited that Julia has learned how to go DOWN the stairs safely now too.

And she is finally crawling on her hands and knees.  We've been watching her army crawl for so long that we still laugh when we see her crawling.