Wonderings and Thoughts On Our Family Situation

N.B. – This was originally just a private post for myself but MB thought it should be published.  As I noted awhile back in Marc’s Morsels Episode 1, I am taking her advice🙂

There are times when I wonder WHY in the world we have been given this situation of having a sick child.  My other 6 children are very healthy in every respect. No significant allergies, no major injuries. The closest thing we had to all of this before was several years ago when Gabbynot had to have a few teeth extracted by an oral surgeon as her adult teeth grew in directly behind her primary teeth.  She just remembers breathing some laughing gas that smelled like strawberries and then it was over.

Occasionally in my meditations, I ask Our Lord why this one?  Certainly not in an angry way…not at all.  There is ZERO bitterness towards Our Lord regarding the situation with The Pinger/TDS.  I am more curious than anything.  Yes there have been, are, and probably will be crosses to bear as a result of his heart issues.  But other crosses will be there for the others as well.

Certainly not to put “God in a box,” as He can and will do anything He desires in this situation, but I have thought of these reasons why him…why now..why heart problems vs. cancer, brain, etc:

  1. My own sanctification.  This process has forced me to detach somewhat to doing things my way for work and managing the house.  We have had additional expenses, doctor visits and other inconveniences.   I would rather spend that time and money on other things. Our house needs some odds & ends repaired. I would like to pay down our mortgage faster…stuff like that that I can’t do right now.  More, below, on that.
  2. My wife, MB’s sanctification.  She has had to give up considerably more than me.  In November, she spent 23 straight days inside the hospital at his side.  This time, she had 10 days in AND had to miss the priestly ordinations for fear of getting sick, or worse, having the baby get sick before going into major surgery.  I can’t help but think of the Stabat Mater sung during Lent…My wife has spent many very restless days and nights watching over our little guy…watching the PICU docs and nurses resuscitate him from near-death several times in November.

    Fortunately, the things that bothered him the first time through went very well the second time.  But other complications arose, one in which she cannot feed him from herself.  It would cause the release of fat into his pleural cavity as a result of something called chylothorax.  So, he is on a special type of fat-free formula.  I don’t think our friend, Delena’s got an oil for this!  :-)  I equate this to having a nice creamy, high-gravity craft beer like Chimay or Schlafly’s Tazmanian IPA and having to, mid-sip, switch to O’Doull’s near-beer.😦  We have a follow-up visit with his surgeon later this week to see if he’s made any progress and if he can return to eating at mama bear soon. What once provided everything he needed, food-wise (and really cheap!) is now poisonous to him.
  3. Priestly examples.  Although the patient care, on the order of nature is most excellent at this hospital, it’s Catholic identity has been brushed aside in many regards.  There is a chapel and the Blessed Sacrament is reposed there, but I have yet to see a priest or habited sister (even a “lightly veiled” sister) anywhere on-site.  So we have asked our own priests to come visit.  They make quite the impression in their Roman cassocks.  Many are surprised to see them.  Perhaps at the times when they have come to visit, a doctor, nurse, parent, patient, etc., had a conversion of heart that I will never know of this side of heaven.  Maybe they cornered one of the Canons on the way out and asked to hear a quick confession.  I once heard of a confession at Home Depot by one of our priests when he was there doing some shopping.
  4. The baby’s sanctification/future.  What does God have in store for him? There were several “opportunities” for him to have died when he was a month old. But he’s still here.  He had already been baptized and has since been confirmed to strengthen his soul.  What is ‘the plan’ for his life?  Will he be a proud father of many children? If he’s called to the holy priesthood, will he hear my last confession? Or your last confession?

These are certainly possibilities.  There are infinite others according to God’s Holy Will.

This time while they’re in the hospital has altered my schedule.  In some ways, for the better…some for the worse.  I have a 1/2 marathon in October that I would normally be training in the mornings but I can’t because I can’t leave the other children alone in the morning.  But for the better…I have an hour or so more per day that I can use doing other things that I would normally be commuting (as I’m working from home).  I have tried to spend that time with the children but also devote more time to my meditation and spiritual reading. I’m reading, again, the Treatise on the Love of God.  It is really whetting my appetite for greater devotion and detachment from created things.  I am able to practice that a little more easily being at home vs. at the office and out & about.  St. Francis de Sales keeps writing about the soul in contemplation…the peace and contentment…the lack of labor of contemplation vs. the laborious meditation.  I’m tired of the labor :)…but I am realizing more and more that I’m my own worst enemy in this. It’s no shortage of God, that’s for sure…but a shortage of me.  The writings in this great work of our patron have been very encouraging.

In Book VI at the end of Chapter VIII and the beginning of Chapter IX, St. Francis de Sales writes the following.  (beware, Puritans *GASP* he is talking about a nursing mother’s breasts🙂 ).  I’ve watched all of my children experience this when they’re infants…at least the stuff on the natural order!  (N.B. – I have written this post over a few sessions, most of which was BEFORE the MB was told to stop feeding the baby.  I’m leaving this particular extract from St. Francis de Sales’ work in, perhaps so it brings it home to me the continued sanctification/suffering being applied to MB.)

My notes in blue. My emphasis in red.

 

The well-beloved S. John is ordinarily painted, in the Last Supper, not only lying but even sleeping in his Master’s bosom, because he was seated after the fashion of the Easterns (Levantins), so that his head was towards his dear lover’s breast; and as he slept no corporal sleep there,—what likelihood of that?—so I make no question but that, finding himself so near the breasts of the eternal sweetness, he took a profound mystical sleep, like a child of love which locked to its mother’s breast sucks while sleeping.

Oh! what a delight it was to this Benjamin, child of his Saviour’s joy, to sleep in the arms of that father, who the day after, recommended him, as the Benoni, child of pain, to his mother’s sweet breasts. Nothing is more desirable to the little child, whether he wake or sleep, than his father’s bosom and mother’s breast. (It is one of my favorite things as a dad to let a little one doze off on my chest…I just have to make sure I don’t fall asleep and let him roll off!)

Wherefore, when you shall find yourself in this simple and pure filial confidence with our Lord, stay there, my dear Theotimus, without moving yourself to make sensible acts, either of the understanding or of the will; for this simple love of confidence, and this love-sleep of your spirit in the arms of the Saviour, contains by excellence all that you go seeking hither and thither to satisfy your taste: it is better to sleep upon this sacred breast than to watch elsewhere, wherever it be.

Have you never noted, Theotimus, with what ardour little children sometimes cleave to their mother’s breast when hungry? You will see them, with a deep soft murmur, hold and squeeze it with their mouths, sucking so eagerly that they even put their mother to pain; but after the freshness of the milk has in some sort allayed the urgent heat of their little frame, and the agreeable vapours which it sends to the brain begin to lull them to sleep, Theotimus, you will see them softly shut their little eyes, and little by little give way to sleep; yet without letting go the breast, upon which they make no action saving a slow and almost insensible movement of the lips, whereby they continually draw the milk which they swallow imperceptibly. This they do without thinking of it, yet not without pleasure; for if one draw the teat from them before they fall sound asleep, they awake and weep bitterly, testifying by the sorrow which they show in the privation that their content was great in the possession. Now it fares in like manner with the soul who is in rest and quiet before God: for she sucks in a manner insensibly the delights of his presence, without any discourse, operation or motion of any of her faculties, save only the highest part of the will, which she moves softly and almost imperceptibly, as the mouth by which enter the delight and insensible satiety she finds in the fruition of the divine presence. But if one trouble this poor little babe, or offer to take from it its treasure because it seems to sleep, it will plainly show then that though it sleep to all other things yet not to that; for it perceives the trouble of this separation and grieves over it, showing thereby the pleasure which it took, though without thinking of it, in the good which it possessed. The Blessed Mother (S.) Teresa having written that she found this a fit similitude, I have thought good to make use of it.

And tell me, Theotimus, why should the soul recollected in its God be disquieted? Has she not reason to be at peace and to remain in repose? For indeed what should she seek? She has found him whom she sought, what remains now for her but to say: I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him and I will not let him go.

Thank you all again for your prayers!

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12 comments

  1. Oh if only I could nurse him! To bring him comfort, to nurse him to sleep, to make him “good and FAT”…. alas, there is a reason for this too I am certain.

    1. I appreciate your vulnerability in this post, Marc. I *really* feel MB’s pain on the nursing factor. How difficult to restrain this natural tendency but knowing that to indulge prematurely would cause different suffering! Dear MB, please know you are loved and your suffering is not in vain. Love to you both!

  2. GIFT
    OF
    THE
    SIXTH
    SORROW

    Have you received
    Christ’s body dead
    Like the sorrowful Mother
    Who cradled His head?

    Christ’s body dead
    Is the death of a child
    Deformed or sickly
    Did you feel beguiled?

    Christ’s body dead
    Is the gift of disease
    Physical, mental
    Can’t do as you please.

    That’s because Christ
    Wants to be close
    To you who accepts
    The sixth sorrow’s dose.

    He chose you of hope
    To cradle His head
    For you know what is life
    And what really is dead.

    Climb Golgotha hill
    For you can handle
    So others can see
    Your light like a candle

    That Christ is with you
    Before and behind
    And they’ll follow your path
    To the tomb quite resigned

    Where quietly gently
    All suffering will rest
    And your head will be cradled
    At our Lady’s breast.

    Oh sons of sorrow
    The gift – your breath,
    You’ll breathe at your birth
    Due to Christ’s body’s death.

  3. Wow, I cannot imagine what that must be like. You have so many nice insights though from everything that you are going through, from the priests possibility of hearing random confessions (a great reminder for them to wears those cassocks in public!) to the sanctification of those involved. I wonder about your other children, how it might be impacting them in that way?

    Lol @ the gasp part to puritans btw.🙂

    1. I HOPE that the other little ones are seeing us respond in a trusting confidence in God no matter what happens. They have responded very well to this whole situation…certainly better than I would have at their age.

      1. Well, that says a lot for the parents you know.🙂 You will find especially that the children will look to you the most for who they want to BE. They will look to their mother most for who they ARE. But they will look to you the most for who they want to BE.🙂

        1. My sanguine brain is not really picking up what you’re trying to tell it. Can you give an example of what you mean? (ARE vs BE?).🙂

          Have a blessed Sunday!

          1. Sure, I can try.🙂

            Now I am not an expert or anything, but I think that fathers are usually the ones who children look to for an understanding of who they want to become in the future, and what they admire in others.

            So for example, a child will look to the qualities of their father to define who they would like to grow into someday, or even the things they would like to do in their lives.

            Plus, a daughter will generally seek a man like her father to marry, even if it is subconscious. So if he was a drunk with low expectations in life, she will generally gravitate to someone like that. If he was very good and mature, she will tend to seek that out instead.

            Since children have a different sort of bond with the mother, they look to the mother for who they actually are, since the mother sort of surrounds them for nine months in the womb and then for a number of years after they are born too, through nursing, and just that motherly bond of engulfing tenderness is constantly defining them.

            Her presence shapes them more in those years, as they sense subconsciously that they come from her, and so they look to the mother for an explanation of who they are. It is inevitable, as her presence is always around them in such a unique way, it is almost as if her presence is actually their presence, and thus it is almost as if they identify with the mother as being who they are. I do not think there is a sense of separation, where the child feels like an individual being.

            If she (the mother) was loving, good, virtuous, etc., then they have a sense of coming from a good place, and being good themselves, and so they “absorb” all of her emotions and psychological states into their own on a subtle level. It defines who they feel they “are” in the present tense as a human being.

            If she was bad, cruel, unloving, etc., then they “absorb” those states and feel bad, unloved, etc., and this defines who they feel they “are” as well.

            But as they grow older, and reason sets in, there is a sense of separation from the mother and looking to see who they will become in the future, and I think it is to the father that they look for that.

            So the mother sort of provides the foundation for their interior world over the nine months of pregnancy, and then the first few years or so as that bond is so close. It is all wordless, unspoken, and very subconscious, but it is there. Then as reason hits, and then a few more years pass after that, and they start to come into their own, they come out of the “womb” of formation and look to see who they will be one day (and for girls, who they will choose to love in a husband). (The mother can still shape who they want to be too, of course, but I think there is something in the father that is stronger in this respect, and vice versa. The father can give them a sense of who they are, but the mother is stronger in that respect.)

            If the father is a strong, positive influence, it will affect who they want to be, and for girls who they want to love one day.

            So both father and mother play massive roles. The mother defines how they see themselves in essence, and the father defines who they want to become. But if either one of these is broken, it can severly impact their lives, and even mess with both roles of father and mother. For example, a bad mother with a good father can lead to someone with a bad sense of self, but yet a strong sense that they deserve better and should be better.

            Or, someone with a good mother but a bad father might feel good about who they are, but question what they really can be in life and who they have a right to expect can ever be in their life.

            It is complicated, and I am not expert, but that is just what I think.🙂

            Does that make any sense? Let me know if it does. It is all rather random when I post it in a comment box, I know.

            God bless you!

            1. Yep…you make sense to me. Thank you for taking the time to respond! I apologize for the ‘crickets.’ Fathering these little ones took more time this week🙂

              There are studies that the father is really they key figure in the spiritual life of the children. Something along the lines of if the mother is perfectly pious but dad does not attend Mass, etc., the kids will most likely drift away.

              1. You are welcome.🙂 I am glad that I made some sense! It can be hard to explain complicated things that deserve more analysis in a short space.

                Yes, Fathers play a very important role. Mothers do too, just in very different ways. Fathers are more “grounding” I think. Mothers are more “elevating.” And that probably deserves a complicated explanation.🙂

                God bless you Marc!

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