“There is redemption in this,” she said. “You may not see it now, but He always uses the big, hard things to do the big, good things. I promise.”
And I nodded.
In my grief-stricken numbness, I nodded. Because nodding is what you do during a sermon. Agreeing is what you do when someone is preaching Truth. Some part of the numbness recognized the Truth and nodded my head up and down.
But I didn’t feel it.
I didn’t feel the Truth.
I didn’t feel anything.
We lost a baby.
Except, did we? That makes it sound like we misplaced a child. That through negligence on our part, my part, our child is lost.
I miscarried a baby.
Except, did I? Did I, through some misstep fail to carry our 4th child correctly? My arms and body know how to carry babies. I do it every day…
We miscarried a baby.
How, exactly, was Andy a part of this happening? Does including him make it less horrible?
The baby died.
That, at least is Truth. But the words are pointed and hard. They have edges. They can’t possibly explain the softness of my body, the waves of emotions, the sweeping sorrow.
My words don’t work.
Because they can’t.
Because there are no words. There is no right or easy or polite way to explain.
But it’s still Truth.
We told the girls that they have a Baby Brother in Heaven. That he is a Saint. A perfect intercessor. And if they need extra prayers, ask him. He’s sitting right by Jesus. Or maybe he’s spending time wrapped in Mary’s mantle. Either way, he’s just rejoicing and partying and ready to pray for us.
To sanctify us.
I have never more clearly understood the Catholic desire for relics. We are beings of flesh and blood, beings of our senses. We use those senses, especially touch, to process and to understand and to believe and to mourn. A letter. A blanket. A lock of hair.
What happens when there is no thing to mourn. No thing to keep. No one to touch and stroke and whisper, goodbye my Littlest Love.
Nothing to bury.
I need a thing! I sobbed. Any thing. Something that touched my baby. Something that touched my saint. I need a relic to cling to until eternity.
I don’t have a someone, I cried. I don’t even have a something.
You, He said.
You are the thing.
You are the one.
You are the relic.
You are the only thing this Saint touched. You are the only one this Saint touched.
You are sanctified.
And redemption reached for my sorrow.
But I railed against it. Pulling my sorrow back. Wrapping it around myself. No! I don’t want this. I don’t want to see the good in this moment. My hardest moment. I want to be sad and angry.
I am sad.
I am angry.
I am lost.
For most of my life I have jumped between atheism and Catholicism. I’m an all-in kind of gal. Either all of It is true, or none of It is true. Moods, experiences, depression, and elation have all flung me from one belief to the other.
And when I’m all-out, it is a soul-damning, God I reject you and all that you say you are, kind of out.
I was standing on the edge of a permanent All-Out.
The tears filled my pillow as we waited to know if Baby was really gone, and I started to think about why I was sad. Because that’s what my brain does. It thinks. Thinks too much. And there were lots of reasons: I’ll never hear him laugh or cry or speak. I won’t see him play with his siblings, I won’t put a bandaid on his knee, or pinch his cheeks. He won’t go to school or get married or travel this big beautiful world. I mourned the loss of that potential. My mind was mourning the loss of another mind.
My mourning mind.
Then I found myself worrying about him. About my baby. I held my womb and whispered, I hope you know how loved you are. I love you. Your mommy loves you. Your daddy loves you. Your sisters and your brother love you.
I hope you aren’t afraid.
Please, please, please know that you are not alone.
I knew the truth. My baby couldn’t hear me, couldn’t feel pain, couldn’t experience fear. My baby was the size of a sesame seed. Those desperate, visceral whispers in the dark made no sense.
But then, I knew.
I knew the Truth.
Those words? That was my soul, speaking to another soul.
My mourning soul.
I have a soul.
My baby has a soul.
And I stepped back from the All-Out edge.
You are saved, whispered my 30 year old soul.
You are saved, rejoiced his 5 week old soul.
Because now that I know, I can never not know.
Now that I believe, I can never not believe.
And I wept.
“and [He] said to them, “Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me; for the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great.” -Luke 9:48
Pray for us, Lucas Emeth Labrie Elder. My tiny, missionary Saint.
P.S. I’m still sad. We’re all still very sad. But we know Luke’s legacy is one of Joy.
We told so many people that he existed, and every single face lit up like a candle with the news. There were squeals and smiles and dance parties and texts and emojis and hugs and so many belly kisses.
He sparked that joy. And that is how he will be remembered:
As the joy-bringer.