By Rachel Hoeing and Guest Blogger, Patrice Williams
We are happy to share a second post from our 2011 Mother of the Year today. Patrice Williams has an incredible and inspirational story to tell. If you missed Part One, you can read it here. Today her story continues and we hope it brings comfort to some of you who may have been through a similar situation …
Currently, we are doing a Beth Moore video bible study at church on Wednesday nights. Last Wednesday, Beth (you know, because I like to pretend we’re on a first name basis) asked, “How many of you know the kind of pain that is so intense you don’t think you will survive it? Who knows the kind of pain that you think will literally kill you?” I raised my hand, along with several other women in the auditorium. And I thought to myself, “I bet they’re looking at me, not knowing what I’ve been through, thinking that I’m too young to know real pain.” (Keep in mind that there was no indication at all that this is what they were thinking, but I like to play out pretend scenarios and conversations in my head that have little to no basis in reality. Also, I like to pretend I’m still young. Ahem.) Anyway, my point is, I know that kind of pain.
It has been over three years since Gabriel died. At that time, there were nights I cried myself to sleep, soaking Matt’s shirt, thinking that I would not wake up, sure that the weight of the pain would suffocate me while I slept. I felt it sitting on my chest, crushing my lungs, seeping out of my pores. There were many moments, in my darkest times, when the physical pain from mourning was more than I thought I could possibly bear. At 26 years old, I was walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. And it was more excruciating than I ever could have imagined.
I met and said goodbye to my Sweet Gabe on April 22nd, 2008. My due date was May 10th. Mother’s Day was May 11th. To say I was dreading that weekend would be an understatement. Matt and I decided to go down to his parents’ house in South Carolina, because I just knew I couldn’t face the empty house that weekend. Really, most of that weekend is a blur. But when we got home, my mom came over with a Mother’s Day gift for me. She said she had really struggled with what to get me, but knew she wanted something.
Well, the Friday evening before, my little sister, Shaina, had wanted to go to a scrapbooking store. It was late and Mom was pretty sure they’d be closed but they tried their normal spot. It was indeed closed, so Shaina suggested another one nearby. Mom was fairly certain it would be closed too but they gave it a shot. Surprisingly, it was open. (Apparently, the second Friday of each month this store stayed open a couple of hours later than normal.)
Mom doesn’t really get into scrapbooking stores, so she just kind of walks around and kills time while Shaina shops. This particular night, Mom found herself perusing the section with all the “How To” books. As she was aimlessly standing there, with a heavy and broken heart, she saw a random book, the only one of its kind, stashed amongst the other books. It was called, “Letters to Heaven.”
She opened it to a random page, and there she read the following.
I was pondering today
The words a tiny babe might say
If they were taken from the earth
Very close to their moment of birth.
What if they could look here below
And send us a love note to let us know
That they were happy and content
And that their time was not misspent…
“Mommy and Daddy, just want you to know
I realize that you love me so
And that you didn’t want me to leave,
But please don’t cry and fret or grieve.
God meant no harm to you or me
But my problems he could see
And knew that in Jesus arms
Was the best place for me to be.
An angel came and brought me here
And Mommy and Daddy, she saw your tears,
And even though she did not speak
With her wing she brushed your cheek…
I live in a lovely mansion here
With such a wonderful view –
It has a rocking chair and crib,
And there’s a special room for you!
I know that you won’t be here
For a very long, long time
But just wanted you to know
That your room is next to mine!
I hope you enjoy your life on earth
And don’t worry about me at all
For I have so many friends
And angels on whom I can call!
Sometimes we go outside
And the clouds are rolling by
And I know that you are looking up
And see them in the sky
When you look up on starry nights
And see them so bright and clear
Just know that they are not nearly as lovely
As they look from here!
I love it here and I’m so happy
That Jesus loves me so
And He loves you just as much –
Just wanted you to know!
Well, I must go back now
But remember if you will
That I loved you while in your arms
And I love you still!
Take care dear Mommy and Daddy
And love your lives for me
For I know that our time together
Was so much shorter than
You thought it would be!
Do not rush your life to get here
For I don’t mind the wait
And my face will be the first you see
When you enter the Pearly Gates!
She then turned a few pages back, and there, right there on the page in front of her, was his name.
HOLDING GABRIEL’S HANDS
Just a few days ago
We could not understand
That this would not be a joyful day
Of holding our new baby’s hand.
All of the preparation
And joyous days of waiting
For Gabriel to join us
Were supposed to end with celebrating.
Our special little angel
Was to be our pride and joy
Our precious gift from Heaven
Our darling little boy.
But that was not to be
And too quickly he was gone
Lifted up to Heaven
To hear the angels’ songs.
We know where our darling is
And we will get through this sorrow somehow
For as for our Gabriel’s tiny hands –
Jesus holds them now.
Now I don’t know what you believe, nor am I trying to force my beliefs on you, but Mom and I both know that God himself led her to that store, to that book, and to those pages. On Sunday, May 11th, 2008, what would have been the worst Mother’s Day ever, my Mom and God gave me the best gift I could have been given. Reassurance. Hope. A message from my little boy.
And there, sobbing in my kitchen, clinging desperately to the words from my Sweet Boy I missed so much, the excruciating, suffocating pain was, if only just for a moment, blanketed in sweet peace. And I smiled, knowing that Gabe knew my love for him. He knew I was his mother, and the absence of his physical presence from this earth could never change that. I knew that I was not alone, and that, ultimately, everything would be okay.