Thursday, July 8, 2010

Learning to Love the Mother of God

If you’ve read my story below about the loss of my first child six years ago now, you’ll know how deeply her death affected me. It was really the catalyst for a lot of mental and emotional rewiring in my heart and in my head. I haven’t been the same since. There is no pain in the world like losing a child, especially when there isn’t a darn thing you can do about it. No matter how much you pray, no matter what you decide, no matter what treatments the doctors try to give, the prognosis will always be death. I wouldn’t wish the kind of pain we went through on my worst enemy.

No parent should have to bury their child.

Just over a year later, my very oldest and best friend went through the same thing with her latest pregnancy. The diagnosis for her baby was terminal as well. She had to bury her most beloved and wanted baby Sarah. I’d just passed the year anniversary of my own daughter’s death and to go through this with my best friend was absolutely devastating. If I wouldn’t wish this pain on my worst enemy, imagine how it feels to have your best friend go through this hell.

No parent should have to bury their child.

A little over a month after Sarah’s death, my dad died. My very dear, beloved grandma (my dad’s mom) told us both (my friend and me) that now she understood the pain we felt when we lost our children. She had to bury her son. She was like us now… a loss mom.

There is an emptiness in the heart of a loss mom that no words can describe…

Fast forward nearly six years… The walls of my hardened heart have collapsed and I am an open vessel, willing and ready to embrace Orthodoxy with my heart and soul. But there was Mary, venerated and adored by the Orthodox, something my Calvinistic sensibilities still fought against, even though I no longer held to those beliefs.

There she was- the Mother of God. The new Ark of the Covenant. The second Eve. The ideal Christian- the one who first fully embraced Christ for who he was, heart and soul. She, who contained God in her womb! More honorable than the Cherubim and more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim. How could I possibly relate to this most blessed of women?

It hit me one day as I meditated on her. She had lost her own Son. She, who had nursed him, comforted him, taught him, fed him, sang him to sleep every night… he died. She knew it was going to happen. She didn’t try to stop Him. She simply treasured her knowledge in her heart. She loved Him more than anything or anyone in the world. Even though she knew He would rise again on the third day, she stood at the foot of His cross and wept. She saw His pain and prayed for him.

Mary, the blessed Theotokos, buried her child… as my grandma buried hers… as my best friend buried hers… as I buried mine.

Mary knows what it is like to lose a child and yet hope in the resurrection. She is a loss mom, like me. And she is now so very dear. She is teaching me so much of grief, hope, and perseverance. Even though Jesus is alive, he had ascended into heaven and she was left to live out the rest of her days without her precious son. In a way, she still lost him. But she continued on. She ministered to people. She told people of her hope and her joy. She is much beloved and has so much to teach all of us who have suffered this kind of pain.
Thank you, O Theotokos, for the life of faith you lived and for the strength you showed all of those who came to know you. Pray for us loss moms, you who understand our hearts. Hold our dear, departed children in your arms, O Mother of God, for they have found a home in you.

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