A Tribute to Mary
Thank you for being here today to celebrate the life of our child. A child who was created exactly the way our Creator designed and in His eyes was perfect. She was “knitted in my womb” and was “fearfully and wonderfully made”. And since meeting my beautiful daughter, I would not want any other child than the Mary that God gave to us. As a proud mother, I want to share just a few of the many powerful lessons that my child, who never spoke a word, has taught me.First, Mary taught me a lesson in the value of life.
Many in our world say that our Mary’s life had no value or meaning and should have been ended earlier to spare us the heartache. We are here today because we know that is not true. There is nothing that she could have done to earn her value or to earn God’s love. Her value lay in the fact that she was a child of God who was fashioned in the image and likeness of Him. She is the daughter of the Most High King.
This fact made me think how this is true for each and every one of us. There is nothing we can do to earn our own value or to earn the love of God. He loves us because we are His. We can do things to make Him a proud or disappointed Father, but nothing we can do can make Him love us any more or any less.
How often we run around feeling pressure to do something to try to make a difference in this world, and somehow leave it a better place. Then there is Mary, whose life touched so many lives in ways that are beyond reason and understanding, and all because she was a child of God and was fulfilling His Will for her life. I can only hope that my relatively long life will have the impact that hers did.
econd, Mary taught me a lesson in trust,
Mary has taught both me and Joe how to “walk by faith and not by sight”. We have learned to trust that God has a better plan for our family and for our lives, and the lives of our children; than we have for ourselves. Learning to trust that God is in control of every situation, even when our human hearts are pierced and broken. If we look with eyes of faith, we know that our suffering is fashioned to draw us closer to God and secure for us eternal life with Him. This trust has the power to banish all fear, and all feelings of self-pity, and turn our weeping into rejoicing.
The following scripture verse from Habakkuk was given to me by a friend, when Mary was first diagnosed. It is one I’ve prayed throughout this journey. First I prayed it through tears of sorrow, not understanding completely. But after a while I was able to pray it with conviction and it has brought me to a place of deeper trust:
“For though the fig tree blossom not, nor fruit be on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive fail and the terraces produce no nourishment,
Though the flocks disappear from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,
Yet will I rejoice in the Lord and exult in my saving God.
God, my Lord, is my strength; He makes my feet swift as those of hinds
And enables me to go upon the heights.
Third, Mary taught me a lesson in humility
Someone said to me that this journey would be life-defining for me and Joe. What I’ve found is that I am not as strong as I once believed. Through this journey if I ever took my eyes off of God and His Will, I sunk to the depths and nothing made sense. God is my strength. Without His Grace, I am weak and have nothing to give. With His Grace, I am upheld in the darkest days.
One night I had an image of Joe and I standing at a crossroads. There were two paths. One was a straight path that looked easy to walk but immediately entered a place of darkness where frightening, unknowns lurked. The other path was a rocky hard climb up a mountain, which also led to the unknown, but there was light at the top. We could only see the first few steps of the climb, but knew that it didn’t get easier, and to reach to top would be a daunting task. Neither path looked inviting, and we were both afraid. But we knew that there was really no choice. We had to climb the mountain. God had backed us into a corner. And I thank Him for that because He knows us so well and loves us so much. He knew we would never attempt such an ascent if we had an easier choice.
So when people comment on how strong we are, I am humbled, because all we are doing is putting one foot in front of the other down a path that God has laid before us, often mumbling complaints along the way. I wish I could say we were running and skipping up the mountain and singing joyfully. But maybe this is preparing us for other mountains, and we will be in better shape to climb them.
Joe and I were also humbled by the countless number of people who reached out to us, and those who kept us in their constant prayers – sometimes total strangers. I learned that the saying “it is easier to give than to receive” is true. Joe and I were awed by the outpouring of help and support of so many wonderful people and humbly accepted the help in our ascent knowing we couldn’t make it on our own. These past five months we’ve experienced the mystical Body of Christ present and among us, and working today, and it is beautiful to behold.
Last, Mary taught me a lesson in life and death
“Oh death where is your sting?” Mary’s life and death taught us that our own lives are but a “flash in the pan” and it has been a constant reminder that we are living this life to get to our eternal destination.
There is nothing more Joe or I can do for our child here on earth. In my humanness, I feel so inadequate because I could not do more for Mary. But our job as parents is to get our children to heaven. God, in His wisdom, has taken care of Mary for us. I know that she was greeted by my earthly father, and that she is whole now and is dancing and playing like a little girl should, and that she is united with her other siblings who we never got the privilege of meeting. And I know that she will be one of the first to greet me when I get there, and she will present me to Our Lord, and we will be forever reunited. Until that moment, I believe my heart will never cease to ache and I will be homesick for my eternal home.
I thank God for allowing me and trusting me to be the mother of Mary, for the lessons her life has taught me and her father, and for the lessons she has taught many others who were touched by her life. I call her “our” Mary because she is part of all of you that have walked this journey with us. Our lives are irrevocably changed because of the brief encounter with our beautiful child. And for that, I am a very proud mother.
Born June 8, 2008, 6:45 a.m.
Began her eternal life, June 8, 2008, 5:00 p.m.
Recommended book for grieving parents: “Hinds Feet on High