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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

On the Level w/ HandyGramps - A Love Story Like No Other

The following was written by HandyGramps in October & posted in their church's monthly newsletter for the month of November. With his permission, I am sharing it here.

A Love Story Like None Other

One day last month, September 2013, HelpfulGrammy and I lost a grandchild.  Our daughter, Maria, miscarried at 6½ weeks.  As sad as that was, there came to be an element of joy in what happened, a joy that can only come from the strength of true faith.  Let me explain.

A few days after it was discovered that the baby had died in utero, Maria passed what looked to be some kind of tissue.  Realizing that it could be the baby, she carefully preserved it in a brine solution and took it to her doctor.  The doctor confirmed that it was, indeed, the baby.  Maria knew that because it was a baby, a proper disposition of the remains was needed: the baby would be buried with all the sacredness and dignity of a Catholic burial.  That evening, the whole family – Maria, Matt, children The Prophet, The Archangel, The Princess, & The Saint – talked over what had happened.  Together, they decided that if the baby was to be buried, a name was in order.  After some discussion they all decided on Francis Mary – Francis in case it was a boy, Mary if it was a girl.  (Now, if you think about it, that’s not all that odd.  Many nuns have taken names such as Margaret Joseph, and monks have taken the likes of Bernard Mary.)

Maria located an organization called Back In His Arms Again (www.backinhisarmsagain.com) that dealt with babies that do not make it full term.  With their help, she arranged for a burial in Resurrection Cemetery near Lewis Center, north of Columbus.  A new plot had just been designed for babies just like Francis Mary.  It’s still being developed and has not yet been consecrated by Bishop Campbell.  Maria asked me if I would do a memorial service at the cemetery, and of course, I agreed.  It was decided that Friday, October 4, would be the day. 

After we decided on readings and the form of the service, I began to think about what words I would say.  I’ve done a lot of funerals over the years, and I either know the person from the parish or I usually have a chance to meet with the family if I don’t know them.  That helps determine what I would say in a homily.  But, what could I say about an unborn child, especially my own grandchild?  For some reason, I decided to wear a red shirt with a red and black tie with crosses on it.  As I was putting them on, the Holy Spirit smacked me upside the head (as the Spirit often does).  Suddenly, I knew what I would say. 

Life has a purpose, but what purpose is there to a life so quickly ended?  What purpose could there possibly be for Francis Mary, whose life never came to full term?  The color red gave me my answer.  It is the fire of true Christian love.
You see, Francis Mary was loved with a love that was anticipated even before conception because Maria and Matt had wanted another baby.  There are countless millions of babies just like Francis Mary, many whose lives ended in the womb through abortion.  Those babies never knew love in this world.  Yes, they are certainly loved by God, and that is certainly more than sufficient.  But they never knew the love of mothers and fathers who wanted them.  They were simply disposed of.  That, I believe, defined Francis Mary’s purpose in life.
Like them, Francis Mary’s life ended in the womb; so, in that respect, they would be able to identify with Francis Mary.  The way I see it, thanks to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, Francis Mary was conceived, and then taken to Heaven, in order to let them know that they are indeed loved in this world as well as in Heaven.   The very love that created Francis Mary, the love between Maria and Matt, the love of their four children, is the love that Francis Mary was created for, a special love to take to all those millions who never knew love here on Earth.  Thanks to Francis Mary, they would know that there are countless people on Earth who truly love them.

And, you know, the story does not end there.  As Maria and Matt said their morning prayer the day of the memorial service, Maria realized that October 4 was the feast of St. Francis of Assisi.  So maybe, just maybe, Francis Mary is a boy.

God works in mysterious ways.

(HandyGramps, October 2013)


Colleen said...

Absolutely beautiful. Brought tears to my eyes. Thanks you for sharing this with all of us.