Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Babies, Blessing and Memorial in the same week

She was dressed with care, and sleeping soundly when Bishop announced a Blessing for new baby to be performed and called up several of the men.  Much like the confirmation that follows a baptism, the men formed a circle, hand on shoulder of the next man.  One person spoke the blessing for the new baby.   It was another of those rituals that capture my attention, observing it being played out before me, getting my rapt attention.  Which is not to say I haven't seen babies baptized and blessed before in other churches I have attended.  This was not, however, a baptism, it was a Blessing for a newborn who (if my understanding is correct) will not be baptized until she is eight years old.   While the structuring is different, the similarity lies in the loving that comes through in any of the services performed for babies and children.  

Announcement later in the service of a Memorial for another baby, stillborn to her family.  Immediate thoughts for me going back to a time when my daughter was faced with dealing with her own stillborn child.  Amirra, she named her, and there was a service for her, she lives in memory.  Last night, was the Memorial service for this stillborn child, Lilly is what her parents named her.  Bishop phoned to ask is Arthur would play piano for the service.  We arrived early so that he might play prelude music as people arrived in the chapel.  I was taken aback upon entering the chapel, as the parents had a Memorial Board for baby Lilly, pictures of her with father holding her, and mother and children holding her.  A picture of tiny feet, tiny fingerprints.  I did not anticipate seeing a visual of the child.  That brought it even closer to home for me.   I learned later from the mother that the hospital put that together and that one of the nurses who attended the mother at the hospital came to the Memorial to be with, comfort and help the family.

Arthur played beautifully, giving a calming atmosphere to the service, helping people to quiet their thoughts, be in the moment with the family.  When the service began, there were two letters read aloud, one by a friend of the family, the other by an older child in the family.  Then Bishop gave a talk on the Plan of Salvation, families rejoined in celestial kingdom. I remembered the time of Amirra, the time of Jordon's passing, and how Arthur already carried this concept of where the children would have gone, a concept I did not know or have, nor did my daughter.  We did have concept of a heaven, knowing her two children were in that loving space, wondering privately why they could not stay with us.

 I could empathize with how difficult it must have been for the Bishop to give that talk.  He and his wife had lost a child of their own, not stillborn, many years shared as part of their family.   Afterwards, people gathered in the cultural room to share together in the communing act of sharing food, giving what comfort could be given to the grieving family.  I had chance to speak to the mother as the gathering was winding down with tables and chairs being put away.  I shared with her that I could not know how she was feeling, relating the story that my daughter had lost a child, stillborn, and shortly after lost another child who had lived 9 months.  She empathized through her own pain with mine, and I felt somehow that was transferred to my daughters.  I say daughters in the plural because my older daughter and her family were there with the passing of Jordon, doing what they could to revive her.  Jordon had already gone, and they were left with a different kind of hole in their hearts.

Having recently visited our two babies grave sites, somehow this week with the Blessing of a living baby and the Memorial for the baby that did not live, it is on my mind to consider these two very different experiences and how the people of our church responded to both of them within the same week.   I am left with leaving in the hands of the Beloved the matter of bringing comfort to my daughters, to my family, to myself.   Years have passed, and perhaps there is a healing over, each in our own way; the memories remain, always there, sometimes close to the surface, sometimes at a safe distance, but always there.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Caring for Newborn

My husband just left for work.  We have a morning routine where we exchange thoughts, prayers, blessings for a few moments before he heads out the door.  This morning he played a couple of hymns I like on the piano and I sang along.  Feeling cheerful and uplifted, I told him I am beginning to find my niche within this Mormon structure.   Afterwards, when we shared our together time he said in passing he liked what was happening for me and it was our 'baby'.  Oh so much more profound than he could have known when he said it, I stopped in my tracks to consider it and told him that is exactly what I have been doing since February, like tending to a newborn, I have been giving full borne attention daily to nurturing this newborn, leaving off attending to other elements in my life that for the moment have taken on a lower priority.

A symbolic concept, to be sure, and I like it.  It is our baby, our newborn, and deserving of the attention being given to care for, nurture, and give time for this child to become the center of our lives.  A labor of love,  in the woman's way of creating life, giving birth, attending to the new child.  I love the symbology and it does indeed reflect the loving time we have shared and given to creating this new life.  I hold it dear, we hold it dear.  Amazing what a few words will inspire in imagery.

Last weekend was Memorial Day weekend.  We had a lot of activity in different yet similar arenas over those four days.  We had made plans to meet his son's new baby and it was rescheduled several times - their scheduling conflict, ours, and a holiday in between the original weekend date and when we finally were able to come to a mutually agreeable weekend date.  In between, we have had our baptism, and family coming from out of town and out of state to participate in our baptism.  His daughter was among one who came from out of town to be at our baptism.  She knew of our plans to visit new grandchild, and had offered to have us stay overnight with her and her fiance.  We were appreciative of the offer, and had a thoroughly pleasant visit with both of them.  Next day we went to his son's home to meet new grandchild.  His children were there and it was pleasant enough. There has been a long term estrangement from or with his children so when I say pleasant enough, it means it was awkwardly pleasant for all.  Except for the grandchildren, they are, as most all children are, spontaneous and engaging for their own reasons.   We then visited the cemetery where two of my granddaughters are buried.  Somehow appropriate for Memorial Day weekend.  Drove home again, off to the church for the chili feed.

At the chili feed we met new friends who are from the visiting Ward, had some fun exchanged with them when we explained why we were not going to be at Sunday services in that we planned a drive up the Washington coast to the new town Seabrook or south down the Oregon coast.  Explaining the concept of Seabrook as a new coastal community designed  to be a walk about community and our new friends trying to imagine it brought up the word commune, which became a running joke for all of us over the next two days.  We also met  a young man from the visiting Ward who is stationed at Fort Lewis and will be deploying to Afghanistan in next two weeks.  He shared conversation with my granddaughter and I asked if I could send him letters, post cards, care packages while he is deployed.  He agreed, although, I'm sure he is surrounded by family who will be sending him all those things and more.  Since my granddaughter has her stepfather deployed in Afghanistan just now, it was meaningful to me that this chance encounter with another young soldier headed for the same destination should fall into our laps.

The lovely elderly couple who live in this little village where we live have befriended us and taken us with some affection as a part of their family.  They were charming to my granddaughter as were our newly met friends at the chili feed Saturday night at the church, and again at the camp out Sunday night at the KOA.  At the Saturday chili feed, he quietly gave my granddaughter a Book of Mormon and another book 'As A Mustard Seed' which is a history of the people of our local Ward back to it's formation days. She quietly and graciously accepted his offering.  I'm proud of how gracious she has been with the members of our's and the visiting Ward.  This is not likely quite what she would have put on her list of things I'm going to do on Memorial Day, and yet, I think she thoroughly enjoyed the contact and community on both days.  And we shared a 'Girls' day on Sunday, she and I, with a drive partially down Oregon coast, she did the driving, her car and I think she enjoyed the curves and twists with the enthusiasm of a young driver.

 Our affection for this lovely elderly couple is growing, and since they are in their spry 80's, we know our time with them is short, and we know it will be meaningful.  He is WW 11 veteran, and I made a mental note that he was wearing his cap to the camp out on Memorial Day weekend. We must invite them to dinner at our house soon, they have twice now had us to Sunday dinner at their home.

My husband will be going with his home teaching companion (the same man of the elderly couple I mentioned) early this month and surprisingly (or not) enough their lesson will be on tithing.  Which is the lesson I had to instruct on 3rd Sunday last month.  A person could start to think there is a message we are to be receiving and assimilating.  Since he and I spent a lot of time processing the preparation I put into giving the lesson, he will be using some of that material and reassembling it in his own manner for his home teaching assignment this month.  He and his teaching companion agreed to trade off every month in who would give the lesson, and this month it will be my husband's turn to present the lesson.

I'm still waiting for my visiting teacher assignments, there has been some sort of  interruption for Relief Society President who is taking some time off just now and her newly called Counselors are picking up the slack.  I'm in no hurry, all in good time.  Meanwhile, the studies, podcasts, reading, blogs, books keep my time fully engaged.

'Be Still My Soul'
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