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.

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