On Sunday, a month from Sophia's 3rd birthday (really? 35 months have passed???), we went to the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa, where the kids (and Peter's brother) have a candle in the memorial candle chapel. We decided to attend Mass there (and this time, actually made an English Mass! The last time, we missed the timing and ended up going to confession with a priest who didnt speak English and then the Polish Mass after... It was beautiful and convinced me that the Divine needs no native language for us to connect...) and then go to the cafeteria for Sophia's special meal. That child connected with the Polish roots of Peter's Ukrainian side with her love of pierogi and kielbasa, both of which are served in the Shrine's cafeteria.
The Mass was lovely. Afterwards, in honor of the feast day of the Pauline Fathers patron saint, St. Paul the Hermit (who is also the patron of children), the children each received a special blessing post Mass. Many of the monks are quite young and it was so sweet watching them bless babies as well as older people. The priest who celebrated the Mass made a special point of telling us that we are all God's children and that, regardless of age, there was no shame in being blessed. It was a nice sentiment.
Afterwards (and, after Bobby peed on Peter on the day when, OF COURSE!, I didnt pack a spare outfit), we went to the visitors center for lunch. And that's where the day kind of crashed. The ATM was out of cash and, of course, we had no cash. (Who carries cash anymore?) So, no pierogi. No kielbasa.
In the grand scheme of things, this isnt a big deal. We went home and had lunch there.
But, to my heart, it was a jab. I love going to the Shrine. I love the familiar smell of Sophia's dinner when we go to the caf. I love thinking that this would have been a place she would have loved to visit. I love the taste of the homemade food that takes me back to her pregnancy. There isn't a lot I can do or give them; visiting the Shrine is a special gift for all of them, but especially my sweet girl.
And it really hurt. In a way that I was caught off guard by because, really, the Mass was great, the candle chapel was beautiful, and we were able to celebrate being there. It was just so bittersweet.
But beauty from pain... When we went to the candle chapel, I lit a candle for your babies... All of them, whether lost because of a chemical pregnancy or through miscarriage or because an IVF transfer didn't end in implantation or because your child died in childbirth or was stillborn or born too early to live. A candle was lit for all of them... And for you too.