“How can there be too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers.” ― Mother Teresa
You would think having children would make you look down at the ground where they are, and be very grown-up and practical.
But actually, having children teaches you to be little enough to walk under trees and stare up at the blossoms in wonder.
Such lush abundance couldn’t go uncelebrated!
Oh, the beautiful scent of spring lilacs wafting up in the warm sunshine…returning year after year with reassuring hope.
Time of hope and loveliness…
When you arrived
You were like a little rosebud
Picked in the rain
Crinkled, crimson, vulnerable
And I was afraid
Time would tarnish you further
My heart quaked before seeing you again
And I felt terrible to be a mother afraid
To see her own child
The first night it was true
You were so cold
As if the frost had bitten your beauty
And your stillness was so solemn
I left you that night
Weeping and broken
With a sprig of baby’s breath
Clutched in your tiny fists
But when we returned
Two days later to visit you
Kindly laid out by the hospital chaplain
You were rosier
Your cheeks were fuller
Like the little rosebud
Had begun to unfurl
Such a mercy
Your three biggest sisters
Could find you lovely
Patting your cheek
Holding your tiny hands in theirs
Proudly having their picture taken with you
They took turns leaving kisses
On your sweet face
One of the few gifts
You could take to Heaven
But the most beautiful day of all
Was the last one we saw you
At the funeral chapel
Our sweet funeral director Michelle
Suggested I help dress you
In the one dress you’ll wear forever
The one I searched the city for
And finally found in a little Italian shop
On the east side of town
Where the Italian grandmas embraced me
And exclaimed “Que bella, que bella!” at your photo
It was a fall baptismal dress
A cosy knitted one from Europe
With a matching sweater and booties
Creamy white with little bits of shiny pink
The last one in the store
Meant for you
So the day before your funeral
Michelle brought you to us
Carrying you in her arms
With the affection and tenderness of a mother
Wrapped in your cosy blanket
The warmest and softest one I could find
And, little rose, you were in bloom!
Your beauty was enchanting
You sparkled as Daddy held you close
And I even laughed and said
You were our little snow queen
You looked so real, so alive
So much like a little baby sleeping
That your grandmother
Meeting you for the first time
Couldn’t help rocking you back and forth
“My baby, my baby!”
So many came that day
All your five children siblings
Your two uncles
And one aunt
And our friend Fr. Uy
Who delivered your crown
You must have felt the affection
Poured on you as everyone took their turn
To hold you, our precious one
And I remember my brother Monti
The one who flew from Hawaii to be here for me
Saying as he held you, “She’s ok. She’s really ok.”
And as we crowned you with a tiny crown
Of yellow and white flowers
Laced with sparkles
And a tiny medal of our Lady
Hand sewn for hours that morning
By a woman from the parish we hardly knew
You, darling, simply glowed
Sharing with us
A tiny glimpse
Of the radiance of Heaven
Today as I was riding the bus with the kids I struck up a conversation with an older gentleman sitting next to me. It was a gorgeous March day, full of the smell of blossoms and the tentative warmth of the newly emerging spring sunshine.
“So did you order the weather?” I asked.
After a few pleasantries about the beautiful day, how spoiled we are on the west coast, and what an amazingly diverse city we live in, he turned and smiled at the kids. One in the stroller, more on seats, one in the snuggly on my chest.
“You’ve got your hands full.”
“Yes, I admit I do!” I laughed, having heard this phrase countless times before.
But then the elderly gentleman surprised me. He followed this banal, overused cliché with one of the nicest things anyone has said to me about parenting.
“But every day is a joy,” he said in the voice of one who remembers.
“It’s so true. They say so many funny things, and are always making tons of cute pictures just for me, and are all amazing.”
I can’t express how much his comment made my day. How that simple phrase affirmed that life is beautiful and worth living. How it pointed out that there is joy in giving, joy in loving, joy in sharing life in a family.
How despite things sometimes being a crazy zoo, full of shrieks and laughter and chaos, running over with spilled juice and bath water, and littered with stickers and Cheerios that stick to my socks (try that for fun!), life in a big family is a beautiful thing, and each day is a joy.