I have been receiving many messages about my blog, so I wanted to share a bit on how this work unfolded and what it has done for me. In previous posts I mentioned that journaling and blogging are therapeutic for me – it helps me remember, reflect, and reorganize my brain and my life.
My writings are organic. They usually begin with a photo or a memory that comes to me in a dream or a thought that crosses my mind during the day – one that I can’t always articulate or release otherwise. None of it is planned. I usually end up with a title at the end, after seeing where the writing journey takes me. There are often gaps in time because I only write when I’m given the information that my brain and my heart need to “download” that day. I believe the information, or the calling to write, is given to me by Norah and by God; sometimes by nature, sometimes by the universe, and sometimes simply by memories of events that inflict a visceral reaction, needing to be released.
Thank you for continuing to read.
April 15, 2018 – Addy’s First Holy Communion and Norah’s Baptism: a day that will forever hold a special place in my mind and in my heart.
I was a little apprehensive to have Norah baptized that soon, due to the timing – the end of flu season and her being just seven weeks old. (I am very attentive when it comes to all of my girls’ health, but for “some reason” I was extra-vigilant with Norah’s.) But I had an overwhelming feeling that this was the right time.
Being that many of our closest family members live out of state, we decided that it would also be most convenient for those we love to share in the sacraments of both Addy and Norah. Father Tony graciously agreed to make this work, so we made the decision to move forward with the plan. We relied on good hand washing and the strong immunity that she and I had been building in her body for almost two months.
Recent reflections of that day have brought so much light to the darkness:
• The altar was still decorated in celebration of Easter, as the Easter season lasts SEVEN additional WEEKS, into Pentecost.
• Norah was not baptized from the usual baptismal font, where both Addy and Sydney were baptized, but instead from the font leading to the altar, which was filled with holy water from the Easter Vigil.
• We were able to enjoy the experience of having so many of our closest family and friends present to meet Norah and to experience the light and love from our three daughters, referred to by Uncle Jack as “The Northern Sisters,” all together.
• Our last photo as a family of five was captured on this day.
• The beginning of the last half of Norah’s beautiful life here on Earth began, as she was blessed at her first (of two) sacrament. Her second and last sacrament was by a wonderful Priest sent to us in the emergency department, to pray over her and perform (an infant version of what I consider) her “last rites,” as she laid dead on a hospital gurney.
I’ve always been a very spiritual person; faithful to God and the beliefs I was presented with at a young age. But Norah’s life and death has brought my faith to a new level. It has become the foundation in my reflection and for my survival as a bereaved mother.
I’ve recently been reflecting on the symbols of baptism, specifically The Baptism Light, for which a special candle is used on the day of baptism to represent moving from death to life in Christ.
One Year Later
April 15, 2019 – Notre Dame Cathedral is (mostly) destroyed by fire.
I try not to become overly affected by news anymore, because I simply do not have the strength for extra emotions or the capacity for negative feelings beyond what I experience in times of deep grief. But some things still lay heavy on my heart.
For obvious reasons, crimes or accidents that involve children affect me heavily. The massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue devoured my attention for days, for weeks actually, because it was so close to home, I also have very close friends who are Jewish. The lives of good and faithful people were tragically stolen due to antisemitism.
Yesterday, the fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral affected me more than I expected, but I could not pinpoint why. Perhaps the loss of a landmark that holds hundreds of years of history? The religious and cultural connection? The people of Paris, and around the world, who are directly affected by the loss?
Then, today, I woke to see magnificent images among the devastating damage. I was enlightened by remarkable news – news of miraculous light and perfect timing, both of which remind me of Norah and her life here on Earth and in Heaven.
• “The cathedral’s golden altar cross was seen standing as officials surveyed the charred structure. Votive candles lit prior to the blaze — each one symbolizing a prayer — still flickered undisturbed in the cathedral,” CNN reported.
• According to Doreen Carvajal The New York Times, “Instead, in a miracle of timing, the sculptures of the Twelve Apostles and four New Testament evangelists escaped a fiery end when they were plucked by cranes and removed just days before the blaze in Paris on Monday.“
Sculptures of the Twelve Apostles and four New Testament evangelists were removed for restoration just days before the Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris caught fire on Monday. Credit Credit Georges Gobet/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
• “Notre Dame was destroyed but the soul of France was not,” Michel Aupetit, archbishop of Paris, told RMC radio.
I’ve been even more enlightened now by something a dear friend, and one of my greatest supporters, sent to me recently during some of my darkest of times: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5
Through all of this reflection, the significance of the date, Holy Week, the incredible photos of our three loves, the fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral, and the light surrounding me, I’ve been reminded that though my family’s hearts often feel destroyed, our souls remain intact. We’re still grieving but now growing, and will continue to shine the light of Norah’s life until we’re no longer able to do so.
I’ll forever dedicate this song to Norah. I sing it to her daily.