"Raising Souls"

"Raising Souls"

Friday, June 26, 2015

Naming and Saying Goodbye

It wasn't until I picked up the casket at the funeral home I could picture her. I felt like I was holding her body. I was but it felt like there was an instant physical connection. It was overwhelming and very moving.

I had no idea what to expect. I went in alone since picturing a heard of small children into a funeral home seemed overwhelming. The director took me to a quiet private room and instantly my eyes fixed on the candle lit table with a simple box and a crucifix. It took my breath away. I had imagined who Avila might be (our future hoped for girl) but I didn't know who this baby was until I saw and picked up that box.

Noel Elizabeth Stanbary

She is beautiful. Lovely. Hear-wrenchingly adored. I always knew I loved her but then when I held her in my arms it hit me like a ton of bricks.

I stood there staring for a while as if time stood still. Then I reached out to touch the box.... and I pulled back hesitating. Was I ready for this? He wrapped the box in a red velvet bag and gave it to me. ...and now I just walk out the door? With her? And then I can just keep her forever, right?

When I walked outside I felt like the whole world MUST be staring at me and know EXACTLY what treasure I held in my arms... I couldn't look around since my eyes were completely blurred with tears.

Jeremy comforted me in the car and the kids wanted to know why I was crying. Augustine immediately wanted to hold. "My baby sister."

All the kids held her except Becket and he did his obligatory pat-pat on the box acknowledging this new competition. It felt like that first moment you bring your baby home from the hospital and all the kids are fighting over holding the baby and the youngest is squaring up their new competition.

They kissed the box and held it close telling her they love her.

The day before we told the kids that Noel Elizabeth died in mommy's tummy. They didn't quite get it until I showed them the ultra sound picture of her. And then Augustine was overwhelmed with emotion... breathing fast he said, "I am feeling not good. I am feeling very sad and anxious. Let's stop talking about this..." It took him a while to calm down but it was the first time I felt bad I couldn't protect or do anything to save our baby. I know it's just a natural thing and I did nothing wromg. But when your children don't understand how a baby could die inside mommy-- you feel weak... like I failed them and Jeremy.

I want to write this because I want to share this feeling this journey and I want to remember it but I also want to let it go.

Gianna said she wished the baby could be in her tummy. She had the reaction I expected. Bummed but it was ok.

We brought Noel Elizabeth into St Joseph's and all knelt down outside adoration.

 I started thinking that we wouldn't get to bring her to church again. The kids wouldn't get to hold her again... and I started crying really hard.

Augustine's love and tender care for her and his sense of loss was SO close to my heart and how I was feeling. He said everything I wanted to say. He shared his devotion for his littlest sister and it was so beautiful and painful. 

We went into mass it was just us, Father Andre, and three of my dear friends who felt like angels siting behind us. We didn't really invite anyone officially but the presence of friends was very comforting and I was so touched. How blessed we are to have such a WONDERFUL priest who thanked US for doing the mass. I was SO blessed by HIM (in persona Christi) to walk us through this in love and prayer. His face was total compassion and love. The mass was beautiful. Simple. About halfway through Augustine sunk in his seat (still holding Noel) and said "I am not feeling so good anymore." It started to hit him the loss of baby Noel. He sobbed for the rest of the mass.

"I can't stop thinking about my little sister. I want my baby sister who is born Christmas Day! I just can't stop thinking about her. I love her... I want her. My sister Avila who is born Christmas Day."

I held him and cried with him.

I felt like the mass enveloped us and our sadness. Jesus enveloped us. We didn't feel better but Jesus held us and we held each other. I said, "it's going to be ok"... But he said, "No, it's not ok... I want my baby sister Avila." I can still hear him crying. It was so pitiful and beautiful.He is so young and feels love so intensely especially for his siblings. His love for Noel and if she had been born at Christmas... Avila.... was no different.

It was a full hour mass and the homily was a conversation with the priest about how we were doing and his words of comfort. Jeremy read the readings I had picked out,

"Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the holy spirit, who has been given to us." Romans 5:3-5

"Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, 'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.' ..."
Jeremiah 1:4-8

I almost thought he wouldn't make it through but he did great and it was beautiful having him read scripture.

We headed to the burial at Guardian Angel's in Oakdale and the location was beautiful. Becket who is just starting to talk more said, "Jesus" and pointed right to the crucifix. It was kind of amazing, since I didn't think he knew the connection and he has never said anything like Jesus before. We all set her in the grave together and seeing the box there... was. really. hard. Really.

I don't even want to elaborate except that I knew I would be ok but I knew the final goodbye would feel like the final goodbye and I was ready to start dwelling on the eternal hello and the life of hope that we live.

Noel Elizabeth, my little dear daughter. I picture you in heaven as a little girl not as a baby. You are so sweet and so beautiful. Thank you for dwelling within me... for letting me share in your gift of life. I am so in love with you and am thankful for the precious gift that you are for all eternity. For your prayers.

"Before you were conceived, I wanted you.
Before you were born, I loved you.
Before you were here an hour, I would die for you.
This is the miracle of life."
-Maureen Hawkins

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