Our son, Victor, was born into eternal life on Sept. 11, 2010. He never breathed a breath in this world. This is his story.
My entire life can now be labeled pre-Victor and post-Victor. Miscarrying our son is a dagger in my timeline. It is a break in the chain. It was the kind of thing that changes you forever. The crazy thing is that, unless we’ve shared our story with you (and we are pretty open about it), you wouldn’t know. When someone is physically injured or maimed in some way, people can SEE that something is different about them. They bear physical scars. Nobody can see the scars on my or my husband’s hearts that tell a big part of our family’s story.
Life and death is messy stuff. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually messy. Originally I thought I’d share the specifics and mechanics of our brief time with Victor but that isn’t really the important stuff. That isn’t his legacy. Believe it, my son, who had been in existence for just over 9 weeks, who could not survive outside of my womb, has a legacy. This isn’t about our experience with thoughtless ninnies at the hospital, who ran the gamut from simple thoughtlessness to idiocy to near cruelty. This isn’t about them. It is about Victor. Our son. Our first baby and our daughter’s big brother. Our family’s little saint.
We are Catholic and we believe that God has a hand in everything. Things happen via his specific will (i.e. It was His specific will that Christ die on the cross in atonement for our sins, in order to save us and open the gates of Heaven.) or his permissive will (i.e. He doesn’t specifically will for me to catch your cold but He doesn’t prevent it from happening, either.) It is so easy to say those words. We believe things happen for a reason. We trust in God’s will. We WANT God’s will for our lives. (Although, when you think about what He willed His only son to suffer in order to save us – sheesh – sometimes I think we’re crazy for wanting His will in our lives, but then again, this is all temporary and we have an eternity in Heaven to look forward to.) It is SO. MUCH. HARDER. to live those words. Victor taught us how.
With Victor, we were given the gift of participating in creation. Our love begat. Our love created. With REAL love (not what our society often defines as love…that’s another post), there is always a possibility that it will overflow into creating new life. We were given the gift of parenthood and the responsibility to help our child get to Heaven. With Victor, we were given LIFE. We enjoyed life with him for something like 2 – 3 weeks. We loved him. We loved him more than anyone who isn’t a parent might be able to understand, considering we hadn’t even met him, yet. We hadn’t met him, seen his face, heard his voice, or held his body but we KNEW him and we loved him.
Our son gave us the opportunity to grow closer together, closer to God, and stronger in our faith. We learned so much because of him. We learned that what you would imagine as being the worst possible thing ever, losing a child, isn’t really. We learned how closely intertwined blessing and suffering is. They always come hand in hand. It is through and because of the bitter that we should more fully appreciate the sweet. We learned that, as parents, we will always be called to suffer in some ways for our children. Daily we joyfully accept that suffering, for love of them. It is not pointless for me to suffer lost sleep if it means I am comforting my sick baby and helping her feel better, or if it means I am feeding her & providing nourishment for her to grow. Our suffering a miscarriage was not pointless, as our son was blessed to go straight to Heaven. We learned to TRUST God with EVERYTHING. He always provides what we need and takes care of us.
Through this, I’ve also grown closer to our Blessed Mother, Mary, and understand her sacrifice just a little more. I know she understands my mother’s heart and sorrow. I also knew, when Victor passed, that he would be cradled in her arms. The Queen of Heaven, our spiritual mother, would wrap her arms around my son. He was okay. No, he was more than okay, he was perfect.
Our son’s legacy is us. His life has a profound continuing effect on our marriage and family. He is up in Heaven praying for us and interceding on our behalf. We’ve learned to appreciate what we are given, when we are given it. To cherish times as they come and not to fear anything. We no longer fear death, not for ourselves or our children. “Oh, Death, where is your sting? Oh, Death, where is your victory?” We are trying to live a life of humility & love, joyfully accepting whatever crosses we are blessed with, offering up suffering to participate in redemption, and gratefully relishing every little bit. We don’t always succeed. We are the family of saints. We’ve been blessed with holy children. We will gladly accept the blessings of more little saints. No matter if they ever live one day on this earth outside of my womb – we will joyfully accept all the blessing and suffering that comes with being parents, with being open to love overflowing. We hope and pray that we will all be reunited in the communion of saints, whenever God calls us.
In 2010 our lives changed forever as we were married, blessed with our first child, and suffered through our first loss. We held close to each other, close to our son, and close to God. It was the most difficult year of my life but I am so grateful for everything that happened that year. We learned that life is life – life on earth or life in Heaven – no matter where our children are, they are alive and we were blessed to participate in that. <3 This is what Victor taught us. <3
After I wrote this, I shared it with my husband. He said I make us sound like a couple of saints, which we aren’t. We’ve been walking in this for three years. It is still very difficult at times. We both struggled with anger after losing Victor. If you’ve read my Pregnancy Guilt post, then you know I really struggled with jealousy, too. This isn’t an easy road. It isn’t a road I’d ever wish on anyone. It isn’t a road that I want to journey down again BUT it also isn’t a road that I am afraid of. I do not fear losing another pregnancy to miscarriage & birthing another baby to Heaven. Satan can not use that fear to rob my joy or hold me captive. There are plenty of other things he can use but fear of losing my babies isn’t one of them. It may not immediately sound like I’m talking about our son but without him, without being blessed with him and without the miscarriage – I do not think I would have learned any of these things. Fear is not of God. Love, peace in your soul, and joy…these are of God. I am so thankful that I am blessed to be able to walk through future pregnancies with a spirit of peace, love, and joy – even if it may also be surrounded by sorrow. God loves my children more than I do and I know He will always take care of them.
I was reminded today why it is so important that we remember who we are and what we have been made for. I find that it’s really easy to love someone you don’t know. I find it’s also really easy to have empathy or sympathy (depending on the situation) for someone you don’t know. I find it extremely easy to give someone I don’t know the benefit of the doubt – sometimes to the extreme. Why are all of these things so difficult with someone that I know?!? It seems that, if I know your background, your story, it would be EASIER to understand, empathize, sympathize, give benefit to, and love. It’s not. It’s so much harder…at least I find it to be. I find it easy to avoid passing judgement on the words or actions of someone I don’t know and even easier to cast blame and judgement upon those I do know. So, what is a girl to do?
The answer is easy and hard all at the same time. I am called to love everyone at all times, like Christ loves. No conditions, no qualifications, no expectations. I love them for who they are, where they are. (Aside…loving someone does not mean tolerating or condoning choices/actions that we know to be wrong/bad/sinful. Loving them means that; in an appropriate time, place, and manner; I should correct them with great charity.) Loving someone like Christ loves us takes great humility. I struggle with that. Christian humility flys in the face of everything we are told to believe in our society. We are told that we must look out for number one but humility says we should have no worries for ourselves. We should not desire to be loved, wanted, praised, or looked upon with high esteem. We should not be afraid of being forgotten, left behind, wrongfully accused, or despised. When we are humble, we know our place. When we are humble, we REMEMBER exactly who we are, who created us, and who is really in charge. When we are humble, we don’t worry about today or tomorrow and we don’t stress over yesterday, because we remember what is important.
God, please create in me a spirit of authentic humility & help me love everyone, strangers and non-strangers, like Christ loves me. Amen.
I started working on a post about The Holy Family on their Feast Day (12/30/12). I worked on it some and then saved it as a draft and kind of forgot about it. As I started looking through my drafts today it caught my eye. How appropriate that I re-read and revise this post today, 1/9/13, as this is also our first CCD class of the new year and we will be talking about The Holy Family, among other topics today. Not only will be talking about The Holy Family, but we’ll be doing a little dissecting as well. We’ll discuss St. Joseph, Mary, and Jesus and their individual roles within the Holy Family as well as what it means to be a family and what The Holy Family is like, as a unit. I’m excited to be back in class with my second graders and pray that God will give me the words and open their minds and hearts as we study and work on their preparation to receive Jesus, later this spring, in our Most Blessed Sacrament, The Eucharist. When I started writing this blog post 2 weeks ago, I had a love story on my mind. Well, more than one as The Holy Family is a picture of such amazing and pure love itself, but specifically I had the love story that God has written for my family on my mind and heart. He is so amazing & the gifts He wants to give us are divine. Simply, amazingly divine. So, below, you’ll find the post that I began working on last year. 🙂 To be totally honest, it’s really more about my family than The Holy Family but The Holy Family did provide inspiration!
Today is the Feast of the Holy Family. I am sitting here, next to my husband, thinking about what all this means. I can’t help but hope that our baby will be born today. (Update…as of 1/9/13, I am still very pregnant. 😉 I must remind myself that everything is in God’s time & His time is perfect.) I realize there is a very slim chance that that will happen, seeing as it’s already past 3 in the afternoon and I haven’t had any kind of regular labor pains, contractions, etc & no water breakage, either. Why do I think today, of all days would be so cool for Baby Nixon to join us? Because it just fits us and our story so well. (This is actually all of the original blog post from 12/30/12 that made the final cut. LOL. Oh, who doesn’t love some editing and revision.)
Everyone has a love story. Really, we all have a few of them. The love story of us and our families. The love story of us and God. The love story of us and our spouse (no matter if our spouse is God, The Church, or a person). Every love story is supremely unique and so very special but, of course, everyone thinks that their personal love story is just a little extra unique & special. I tend to fall into that camp and happen to be of the (biased) opinion that the love story I share with Harold and our family is something a little extra special.
I could go all fairy tale on you (to be honest, I do LOVE a good fairy tale) but I won’t. 🙂 Everything about our relationship was a (to quote a Julia Roberts’ movie) “wrong fit right from the start”. Harold did not like me, at all. He didn’t find me to be attractive and thought I was a little too…well, too much, I guess is as good a way to describe it as anything. He liked girls with dark hair and dark eyes. He’s always found girls with an ethnic background, specifically Latina girls, to be particularly beautiful. What am I? Light hair, light eyes, and fair skinned. Northern European (whole lotta German & English in my background) through and through. Thankfully, he’s always been a bit of a chubby chaser, so one plus for me. So, almost no physical attraction on his side. What about me? Well, I didn’t find Harold to be all that attractive, either. He had a very young face and NO chin at all. Nothing, nada…he went from face to neck (not totally true…he just had a very “soft” chin). I also thought he was a little strange, a little quiet, a little too sensitive, and a little too meek. Also, he liked to talk philosophy. PHILOSOPHY?!? Ugh. Our personalities didn’t mesh (he told me I was simply too brash & I thought he was a mama’s boy), we weren’t physically attracted to each other, and every time we talked or hung out he always swore to himself that that would be the absolute last time. He really wanted nothing to do with me. And what now? We’re married. We’re madly in love (mad is a sometimes a big part of that) and we have one child in heaven and one in oven, due any day now. I can say there is no way we would’ve moved beyond personalities not meshing and the total lack of any physical attraction if it weren’t for God. He had to be at play in our love story. There had to be some divine intervention. (Just FYI…I find my husband to be ridiculously attractive and sexy now. He tells me how beautiful I am and that he can’t believe he didn’t see it the first time he saw me.)
I struggle with my prayer life. I always have. It ebbs and flows, like I’m sure many of yours does. I’ve always known how important it is to pray for your spouse, even when you are single and have no clue who your spouse may be. To know something and to do it are two different things entirely. I did not pray for my future husband. I’m sorry for that. Harold did. When I say Harold did, I mean that Harold prayed for MY future husband! He also prayed for me. He would kneel at the back of our church, under a picture of The Holy Family, light candles, and pray for me and my future husband. He was positive that I was a good girl, who needed a good man, and that man was NOT him. He figured that man would need the prayers. He figured I did, too. He was right about almost all of that. 😉 We’d been dating for nearly 6 months when Harold confessed this prayer habit to me. He still wasn’t sure about anything. I fell hard the instant he told me he’d been praying for me all that time. That’s our love story, well at least the beginning of it. My husband faithfully prayed for me (and him, he just didn’t know he was praying for himself), even when he didn’t like me. That is love. I am thankful. There are plenty of cute stories I could share with you. Plenty of ups and downs, plenty of inside jokes. Harold loves to make me laugh & he’s pretty funny. Those are stories for another post (maybe).
Harold and I had been dating for about 2 and 1/2 years when he decided to propose. He always said he would never ask twice BUT he actually did. 🙂 Most of the time I share the story about the first proposal but this time, I’m sharing the second. Harold took me to our church, to the back corner and we sat down. There were some older ladies in the church praying the Rosary and Harold didn’t want to draw attention or make a scene, so he told me I wasn’t allowed to cry. He asked me if I knew where we were and why were were there. I did not (I mean, I knew we were in church but you know what I mean). He pointed to the back wall, where the picture of The Holy Family was hanging and told me that we were sitting in the very spot where he used to kneel to pray for me. He knelt under The Holy Family and prayed for their intercession for me and my future family. Since it seemed to be God’s will that Harold was part of that future family, he thought it appropriate that this was the place he proposed. He dropped to one knee and pulled out my engagement ring. A pearl, surrounded by three interlocking circles of diamonds. The ring is full of a lot of symbolism, too. I did cry (very quietly…nobody noticed) and I said yes.
Sometime in the next three weeks or so, our baby will be baptized in the same corner of our church, under the same picture that Harold used to kneel under to pray for us and then that he knelt under to propose. I can not think of a more perfect place for our baby to welcomed into our Church family than that spot, under The Holy Family, where Harold and I agreed to start down the road to building our family. Icing on the cake…our baby’s baptismal garment is being made out of material from my wedding gown. Our baby will be baptized in a gown made from the gown I was wearing when our family was created before God, our extended family, and friends.
Our baby was baptized on February 3, 2013. This is a picture of our family standing in front of that picture of The Holy Family.