As we draw near the one year anniversary of Mary Grace's death, she's been increasingly on my mind. I find myself "spacing out" for a few minutes here and there remembering different parts of our time together and the whole experience of losing her.
Some moments I am sad. Sad for what could have been.
But in other times of reflection I am left with a feeling of peace and joy.
When thinking about the last year, I am at first inclined to say that it was the worst year of my life. Losing a child brings indescribable anguish. Some days I felt like I wanted to die from the pain. And I am still not past cringing when I learn of another person who is expecting. But through my suffering, through the initial struggle with God's will and then my surrender to His will, through the grace He poured out over our family from the love and prayers of friends and strangers, I have come to the understanding that this year was in fact the best year of my life.
Certainly not in the secular sense of what the "best year of my life" would look like, but because of the spiritual growth I have experienced, and the peace, joy and relief that have accompanied it.
Through Mary Grace's death and my own suffering, Jesus has showered me with the grace of His Father. Although I had faith before, I did not choose to live it all the time. I didn't understand the importance of choosing each day and in every instance, Jesus.
Sometimes I think of God's grace as water in a faucet. God's grace has always been "waiting in the tap" so to speak...Waiting for me to turn the handle and let it flow. When Mary Grace died, I turned the tap on so that just a trickle came out, and sometimes I would put a finger underneath the tap to get a drop...and other times I would reach up and turn the tap off completely. But after awhile I grew thirsty, and now I try to leave the tap on full blast, because I wish to be bathed in that "water of life", the grace of God, all the time.
His grace has moved my will to accept His love in a new, fresh way. To be completely immersed in His grace leaves me with the strong desire to avoid all sin and to spread His message of love and salvation for all the world.
This year I have learned to embrace my cross. We embrace our suffering because in that way we can share in an intimate way with Christ.
The deepest yearning of my heart is not to have another child. It is to remain in an intimate relationship with my Savior. That is why I was created; to know, love and serve God. And through my suffering, the Lord has drawn me to Him in a deeper way, and I have cooperated (thanks be to God!).
I always have the choice, the free will to reject God, just as I have the free will to choose His gift of salvation. Thankfully His grace has worked to gently move my own will (over time) into a more complete conformance to His will.
He has cloaked me in grace! He has bathed me in mercy!
When I cried out, the Lord heard me.
When the pain engulfed me, His mercy poured into my heart.
Keep me close to Your Sacred Heart, Lord, in all the days that lie ahead.