By now Kat is in the hospital, beginning to prepare for the birth of her dear baby Annie, who will be going to Heaven too soon. Some friends are en route to Houston to be with the family. I am at home, 39 weeks pregnant, doing my 6th load of laundry of the day.
For the past 6 months or so I have known that these two babies would be born at about the same time, and I have been overwhelmed by feelings of guilt and unworthiness for getting what feels like the easier mother’s journey. In the year when every single builder will have a baby, Kat has graciously played along as we all complained about maternity bathing suits, swollen feet and minor worries. She has offered advice as I tried to sort out my childcare plans for the summer with a new baby, while she sorted out plans for a summer with a grieving family.
In many ways, the group of us have been reminiscent of Mary and Elizabeth at the Visitation, at once nervous about what is to come and grateful for the fellowship of other women.
But because I cannot travel, because I feel like I can’t even allow myself, so close to delivering my own baby and with six other children to care for, to even really be emotionally present to Katrina right now, I am left with the guilt.
As I fold laundry and pray tonight, I have one strong, important insight, one answer that seems to come from the Holy Spirit. The only way to respond to Annie’s life, and to the lives of Therese and Lucy, is to take my over flowing household of children into my arms and love them. To love them through potty training and preteen acne and bikes all over the garage, and through whatever trials, big or small may be coming my way. To be grateful for what I have, and to offer it back to God in love, to be aware that we are His sons and daughters. So I’ll keep doing laundry, and tomorrow I will love my children a little extra. When my time comes for labor, I will offer it for Katrina and Ed.
When they set this date, they got a certainty, which is that their baby would be born by tomorrow. They also have a certainty that Annie will be waiting for them in Heaven. I don’t have a certainty about when my baby will be born, and I can’t have a certainty about the state of his soul whenever his death may come. This uncertainty is one of the hardest parts of mothering, it makes us all turn to St. Monica and beg her intercession, but again, I think that the way to respond to that is love and offering them to God. Ultimately, none of them is ours to keep forever.