March 25th. The Feast of the Annunciation, when we celebrate Mary being visited by the angel Gabriel, with her saying yes to His will that she become the mother of God. I am told that some celebrate this date as the day the world was created; a Byzantine friend of mine once mentioned that. In Tolkien, it's the date of the destruction of the Ring and the downfall of Barad-dûr (thanks for the head's up, Mark Shea:). Around here, it's my sister's 30th birthday. (And yes, I did call her.)
And it's now the day we bought the earthly resting place of Perpetua Grace.
Yeah. We had a girl. :)
Collective sigh of... relief? That we didn't lose our "only boy"? Well no. Still sad to miss this littlest sister. But definitely chuckling because now we've had (at least) girl number 5. Dan and I had been "sure" all along this was a boy. Now we found ourselves scurrying around for yet another female name. Except this time, we didn't have to worry about stupid nicknames their classmates would call them in school. I know all her buddies up there are better than that... and she has so many friends already. So very many of you have shared your own losses and heartache; I can really smile knowing what a great playdate they all are having up there right now, our angel kids... And we saw March 7th was the "feast day" of Perpetua and Felicity, two early Christians who died for their faith. And the name kind of goes with her 18 month old sister's, huh?
Here's Annemarie and Claire helping Daddy pick out a girl's name... They eventually agreed with our choice, and we smiled thinking of calling a little baby "Perpetua." So it was settled.
"Perpetua" meaning "forever" or "eternal," and grace "the exercise of love, kindness, mercy, favor; disposition to benefit or serve another; favor bestowed or privilege conferred." Also refers to His mercy. And the very life of God.
I love her name. Sounds like she has a beautiful job in the heavenlies. I'm so proud to be her mommy.
Dan bought me these roses... He said the white one is our baby, and the red roses are our love. I truly feel right now that we all are surrounded by Love.
It was a surreal day, nodding at a tiny white coffin shown on an I-Pad at the funeral home, being escorted to the cemetery and told by the older gentlemen, kicking at the grass, "Well, I've got this piece right here, lot 169, or you could have 168 over there... Let's see what else is available..." I looked around dazed at the evidence of many other aching hearts like mine, and those far more broken. Two and three and six month olds. Photos of little infant faces and etchings of cherubs. Sun-faded toddler toys beside pinwheels, spinning madly in the cold wind. Flowers and easter eggs and a "Happy Birthday" sign. So much sorrow. So much hope. So much to long for. So much joy to come.
I find myself blurred at the edge of my realities: Perpetua feeling more real to me than the dinner I'm eating, or the toddler screaming for more chocolate milk. But the thirsty kid in my kitchen needs me; as for Perpetua, I've done my job. I'm trying to gently guide my shocked mind and body to that reality. My baby doesn't need my prenatal vitamins anymore. Just my love. And I already feel her love shining back with her dear sibling Gabriel. It's hard to put into words, but I'm so very wonderfully sure she is alive. Gloriously alive and gloriously herself. So untouched by the petty miseries of winter weather, and burials, and unneeded maternity clothes.
The universe is both smaller and more vast than ever to me tonight. Close and far. Invisible, yet just by a thin veil. Present and future and eternal. Love binding it all together and making it perfect, if still incomprehensible.
I'm going to finish crying for the day, say a prayer, and eat some of this chocolate one of you left me. You all have been crazy good. It has made this time more bearable. And then I'll watch "Once" or something. Or "Amazing Race." I have to take all of this in small doses after awhile...
It looks like the burial will take place on Wednesday morning. The plot we chose is right beside a statue of Jesus' Mom, at St. Ann's Cemetery. I've had relatives buried there for centuries now, grandparents, stillborn twin cousins, immigrants from Ireland; it's likely that's my final resting place too, especially now with Perpetua there. The plot for children overlooks a river, with ducks and trees and brush. I got her a front row seat to the nature--it will be gorgeous in spring and fall--just to the left of the bench so visitors could spend time in a peaceful spot. I'm as "happy" with it as I can be. Though guess what they call the children's section of the cemetery? "Babyland." BABYLAND! I kid you not... Sounds like a sketchy daycare, you know?
I'm so glad Easter is near.