As a young girl, I remember attending the stations of the cross at Lent. The picture of Mary holding her Son’s body and the look of complete agony on her face disturbed me. It drew me to her, not really knowing why. And it would always bring me to tears.
As a mother, I once said to a friend that I did not think I could survive the loss of one of my children. This is just against the “natural order of things.” But the unthinkable happened on July 4, 2007. My beautiful son, Marcus, took his own life at the age of 17. It shattered my world. I was so devastated that I could not think or function. Sitting in the funeral home next to his casket, I would stroke his hair with one hand and hold my rosary tight with the other. I would pray that this was some terrible dream and when I woke up things would be back to “normal.” It never happened. We buried our precious Angelboy in our family cemetery on a very rainy day in July.
I continued to hold on to my rosary, mad at God, but thinking of Mary and the unimaginable pain she had suffered, now realizing that we shared this pain. There are no words to describe the pain of losing your child. It manifests as a physical pain deep inside your core where it is so dark and deep nothing can reach it. I tried drinking the pain away, but it returned with a vengeance every morning. I begged God to make it stop, to give my baby back, to just let me see him for five more minutes. I barely functioned, in a fog, only vaguely aware of those around me. My family tried to help, tolerated my outbursts, and my tears, and gently pushed me toward healing.
On the Mother’s day after his death, I was at Mass with my family, trying not to notice the big hole in our pew and the huge hole in my heart. At the end of Mass, the priest asked the mothers to stand for a blessing. With tears flowing down my cheeks, I looked up at the cross. “How did your Mother survive that?” I thought quietly. It was then the answer began to come. She had faith. She believed that there were many wonderful glorious things to come. She did not know when she held her child’s body in her arms that she would see Him raised up in Glory on the third day. She simply had faith. This is what she – and her Son – had been trying to tell me all along. Many glorious and wonderful things are to come my child. You are going to be a vessel to lead people to our Father with your story. And hopefully, your story will help other moms in their grief, and possibly prevent other children in such despair from taking their own life, showing them that there is something better tomorrow.
From that day, although there have been many bumps in the road, I have a newfound faith in the glorious and wonderful things to come. Our Father continues to bless me with an abundance of grace and peace, and I have faith that I will see my Marcus again. I will tell my story and I will share my faith with others.
Now when I see the image of Mary holding her Son, I feel peace. I remember He became like one of us through a woman, not unlike me, and he showed us how to be human. And Mary shows us how to be kind, loving, and truly full of grace.
Father, grant me the grace to remember every day that you have me in your hands. And I will see Markie again when I am done with Your work here. I love you with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength. Amen.
Photo by Gareth Harper on Unsplash