Heaven Meets Earth
Today your little brother was baptized into the Catholic Church. This was a day I had been anticipating since we saw his heart beating at his first ultrasound. I wondered, would we make it to this day? Would we actually baptize this baby?
You see, I’ve struggled immensely with the fact that you were not baptized. When I was pregnant for you we selected your godparents, set the baptismal date, and marked our calendars—Saturday, July 15, 2017. However, after your death, this day became just another painful date and milestone to get through without you. It was another hard day of the so many unbearably hard days.
So for your brother, we didn’t ask the friends we had prayed about to be his godparents until after he was born. We didn’t contact the priest and the church or choose a date until he was home. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t fear him dying before that day came. And I would also be lying if I didn’t admit that I feared the actual day of his baptism, because I knew it would be another hard day. Another reminder of your absence. Another experience we didn’t have with you.
And honestly, I did have a lot of anxiety leading up to today, but the anticipation was also intermingled with a lot of joy and excitement for his special day. His first sacrament. (Your siblings were also extremely excited, as well.)
You have to be alive to be baptized. He is alive (thank God), so he was able to receive this sacrament today. You were already gone, however. Your soul had already departed from your body once you were delivered from mine. (In fact, I felt it was gone from me that morning when I woke up, and our lives got turned inside out.)
After you were delivered, you received a blessing. Our priest, our friend, anointed you. He had come to the hospital earlier that day after receiving the news of your passing, and he anointed me before we began the induction. I truly believe that anointing provided me with the strength I needed to begin the process of your delivery. He came back that evening and was able to be present at the hospital moments after you were placed in my arms. That moment hurt. Big time. It was not what I wanted or how I wanted things to turn out for you. There would never be a baptism.
I can still see your beautiful, sweet, pale profile. You were resting in my arms. Your dark, wavy hair still moist from labor. Your body needlessly swaddled. He leaned over you and commented on your beauty, and anointed you and gave you a blessing while tears just fell and fell and fell forever from my eyes. I can touch that moment so tangibly. It was the first time I held you, and my heart was exploding with deep and intense love and unfathomable pain and sorrow at the same time. Today, when your brother’s head and chest were anointed with holy oils, my mind flashed back to that moment with you. You, too, were anointed. But not for the same reason or purpose.
Your brother was anointed as priest, prophet, and king. He became a member of the Communion of Saints, as a baptized member of the Church living on earth. He has a different purpose than you. Your soul is living in heaven. I knew you were in heaven. I didn’t struggle with you not being baptized for that reason. I just wanted you to receive a sacrament. I love the sacraments and to receive any of the others, you have to be baptized first. It’s all just a vicious cycle, which reveals more and more that you will never experience anything this world has to offer...even from the Catholic Church, because you are not physically here.
Today I held your brother in awe. I just wanted to soak him all in as I inhaled the aroma of his head, still saturated with those oils. There was so much beauty as those baptismal waters were poured upon his head. Heaven met earth. Concealing him in my arms was a true embrace of grace. He is pure, unblemished, and sanctified as he rests on me. Today, we celebrated! There is a piece of heaven in our home, and I almost can’t get enough of it. And I realized, heaven has met us once more...thirteen months later...and grace was poured out upon grace just like it was the day I held you for the first time. And I’m so thankful for that awareness, because it reminds me of your existence and how God leaned in so close that day.
The sting came this evening after we brought the flowers from his reception to your grave. I looked at his baptismal certificate, and I was flooded. No birth certificate for you. A death certificate, yes. And no baptismal certificate for you either, but instead, ”A Certificate of Life” stating your delivery date and who blessed you. Same priest. Same name. Completely different experience. TRIGGERS.
So it’s been an extremely emotional day. But that is life with grief, so as it seems. The highs have been high, and the lows have been low. I also felt some guilt today about putting the focus on your little brother. Reigning it all in throughout the day also completely wore me out, and I could not keep my guard up any longer. I fell to pieces tonight. But your littlest big brother didn’t miss a beat today. He had enough room in his heart to celebrate both of you. His joy was immense. That has always seemed to be his gift. He brought your picture to the church so he could hold it for a new family photo...our family of EIGHT. And I know you were with us, although I longed for it physically. Because heaven met earth today for our family, and heaven is where we will find you again.
Loving you so much, my girl. Keep those prayers coming.