Congratulations and Celebrations

12:27:00 PM

I wrote this story last year, for Thomas' birthday. As his 12th birthday approaches, I'd like to share it again...

I woke up with a heavy heart this morning. Our girls woke up with a feeling of excitement. It is a birthday. Thomas’ birthday.

I wonder why I feel so sad. It has been eleven years since the day of our baby’s death. Surely that is enough time to get over the grief? I have come to the conclusion that grief never really disappears. It is put into a compartment where it becomes manageable, hidden under layers of more immediate concerns. Life moves on and joy and hope return. It looks like grief has gone. Then a crack may appear and all the pain and suffering seep out to once again cause a heavy heart. This can happen on those expected days like anniversaries and birthdays, days like today. But sometimes sorrow can return in a flash when I am quite unprepared.

I remember talking to a friend last year about the time I spent in hospital with Thomas. I shared a room with three mothers who were all busy with their newborn babies. The babies were breastfeeding or snuggling up to their mothers or sleeping peacefully in their cribs. But there was no baby and no crib by the side of my bed. Thomas was a few floors away in the neo-natal intensive care ward. The other beds in the room were surrounded by flowers and presents and cards and visitors. The mothers were on and off the phone accepting congratulations. As I was telling this story to my friend, a huge wave of sorrow engulfed me and tears streamed down my face, much to my surprise. And the cause of the pain? The memory that we didn’t receive even one congratulations card. Unlike the other mothers, no-one had congratulated me on the birth of our son.

Thomas died and there were endless expressions of sympathy. Our home was filled with flowers and sympathy cards and home cooked meals. Everyone offered help and prayers and their time just to listen. We were so blessed.

So why is the absence of a congratulations card so important? I didn’t even realise it was that important until the conversation with my friend. I think I just wanted someone other than us to be glad Thomas had been born. I wanted him to have the same welcome into the world that all the other babies had been given. I wanted everyone to be happy that we had a third son instead of just feeling sorry he’d died. My friend’s empathetic ear had stripped away all those protective layers over my heart, and sorrow bubbled over.

But today I expected my heart to be heavy and it is. We have had our usual picnic outing to the cemetery. We have taken birthday photos of all the children around Thomas’ grave. We have given him a new bear which we have called Mary McKillop and we have all written in a birthday card which we tied to the flower bowl by his headstone. There will be birthday cake for dessert tonight. Yes, we have celebrated our son’s birthday.

Thank you, God for the gift of our son. His life may have been short, too short in order for us to be congratulated but it was long enough to realise how blessed we are, and to want to celebrate this special day year after year.

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  1. Hi Sue,
    We'll be praying and thinking of you, on Thomas' birthday, as always. I hope you have a day filled with Jesus' love and consolation.

    I have just awarded you with an I Blog Jesus award. I hope you see it as encouragement for your beautiful mission:)

  2. Thank you, Vicky, for the birthday message and the award. They both mean so much to me. Congratulations on your own award which was well deserved!

    I'm sitting here contemplating the day. What will it bring? I must go and arrange Thomas' new teddy Therese. We have a birthday card to sign, Thomas to visit, a birthday cake to eat... First, I must publish his birthday post.

    God bless!

  3. Thinking of you, and praying for you today. I am many years too late, but congratulations on the birth of your third son. Love to you.. and may Jesus's Divine Mercy fill you today, and may you find rest today in Our Lady's arms.. let her comfort you today, and pray for you as well.

    Love & hugs!

  4. Thank you, Susan! It's never too late to comfort someone with the right words.

    God bless.



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