I’ve been blessed in that I can work from home… it’s been almost seven years now. However, that can be good, and that can be bad. Because when you stay at home, you can become isolated and separated from the world and current affairs. Especially when you quit cable and satellite and have nothing but internet for news and Netflix for entertainment. And so, it was last year when a couple of my family members died that I purposed in my heart to see more of my family. And here I am a year later, but not much has changed. Oh, I’ve reached out a little bit more this past month, and have tried to do better with loving on my family, but not nearly enough. And so, it was last week when I was praying that I had to stop mid-request. Because it was my aunt Cathy that I thought of. And what came to me was clear… “She’s next.” It was her that I wanted to love on next… but here I am a week later, and I’ve not moved from my hermit’s quarters.
It was earlier this week that a devastating tornado ripped through Oklahoma. I didn’t even know it till late that evening. As I said, I’m isolated here… I work from home, I check the web for news sporadically, and I don’t leave the house much. And when I finally realized what took place so many miles away… I was moved, and yet, I had nothing. Writing-wise, that is. I fancy myself a writer, and here was this catastrophic event that took place, lives lost, and I had nothing to offer by way of words. Until today that is. It was not till this morning that my heart was heavy, and that my eyes were weepy, and that I pondered what really took place. It was not till this morning that I fully comprehended that the worst had happened for so many people. Because what really happened is that some peoples’ biggest fear was realized in that they lost what mattered most to them. They lost their children. And what’s left are child sized holes in their hearts… holes that can never be filled. And that’s when I remembered… I remembered my aunt Cathy.
Honestly, I can’t tell you how many years ago it was when my cousin Barbie died. It has to have been at least eleven or twelve years. But what I do remember is the time of year… May. I remember because I was at the beach with my husband’s family. It was near Memorial Day, and we were having a blast. But there was a message on my phone… Barbie had died in a tragic accident. She was a young woman and it was so unexpected, and when I called my brother, he could barely choke out the words. It seemed so surreal to me… how could this happen? And when I heard the news, I was young, myself. And I had no children… and no thoughts of trying to. Not really. And so, this sad and tragic event affected me… but not as it would today. Because now, I am a mom. And now, I know how I feel about my own. And if I want to be truthful, this is my deepest fear… that I’ll lose my darling boy. And I know that if he were to be taken from me, he would leave a hole in my heart that no one could fill. Because there is no other him. And I’m sure this is exactly how my aunt feels. And I’m pretty sure that what took place in Oklahoma earlier this week serves as a reminder of her own loss… and of her own broken heart. I’m sure she sadly remembers her own child that was ripped from her arms way too soon, leaving a hole that can never be filled.
“A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” Matthew 2:18
Today there are so many broken hearts. Today, so many mourn the loss of their precious babies, and comfort seems far off. For some families, like in Oklahoma, the wounds are fresh… but for some, it’s old wounds that have never quite healed. And age matters not. Because I don’t care how old the soul is that moves on from this earth, the fact is, she’s still someone’s baby. And I wish I could tell Cathy this… that I think I have an idea of what she may feel. I wish I could go back to that time so I could really empathize with her and let my heart break alongside her own as it happened. Because then, I could not…. not like today. I wish I could go back to that time so I could offer her words of hope… words of wisdom. But you know, it’s never too late. And it’s no accident that God brought my aunt to mind last week. Because He knew what was going to happen this week… He knew just how she would feel. Remember, “Cathy’s next…” See, her daughter died sometime in May. There’s no doubt… she is remembering. There’s no doubt… she still feels it. And there’s no doubt, the child sized hole remains.
It’s Memorial Day weekend. And too often, we forget what really matters… see, mostly we think about beaches and pools and hot dogs and lakes and cook-outs and fun. But it’s so much more. It’s a time to remember those who have gone on before us. And may we not forget those who were left behind. And this weekend, may we not just remember those left behind, but come alongside them. May we offer them hope and surround them with prayers… especially the mothers.
See, a mother is connected to her child in a way that no one else could be. At first, the baby is knit together in her womb… inside her. The baby is encompassed, surrounded by protective fluid. And she receives life sustaining oxygen and nutrients from her mother through the umbilical cord. And then, when she finally leaves the safety nest of her mother’s womb, she exits by way of the birth canal and is placed directly into her new safety nest… her mother’s arms. And most mothers will testify today, that if we could, we would keep our children right there… in our arms forever. But that’s not the way of life.
So this Memorial Day, may we remember, and may we pray for those left behind…
Dear Lord, may they know! Please God, may all those left behind with child sized holes realize that yes, it’s true their sweet children were indeed carried away from the safety of their arms. However, may they receive some sense of peace when they comprehend that their little ones were carried away by the arms of Your angels. And although they cannot physically hold their precious babies here on earth, just maybe, God, just maybe… they will find some comfort in knowing that those little ones are now with You, in Your everlasting arms. May they realize that there’s no safer place to be… in His name I pray, Amen.
No, I don’t think those child sized holes will ever be filled here on earth. But one day, the holes will disappear, when we ourselves are ushered into His arms… alongside our children. And so this Memorial Day, I choose to remember. I will remember those families out west, and their hurts. And my heart will break alongside theirs. But also, this Memorial Day, I will remember Cathy and her own child sized hole. Today, my heart breaks for her. And because God brought her to mind, I just have to think today’s writing is specifically for her… this one’s for Cathy.