Every year, we have a Mass said in memory of Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander on their birthdays. They've always been at our old parish, but for 2013, we decided to start requesting them at our new parish. To simplify, on the day the Mass Book opens, you show up at your parish, wait in line, ask for said date, make a donation, and voila! On the date in question, your beloved is remembered in the Mass. Typically, at the beginning of Mass, the lector or cantor will say "This Mass is being offered in remembrance of XYZ, as requested by ABC", and the intentions of the Mass are said in memory (or in some cases, in honor of), your loved one.
If you aren't Catholic or Orthodox, it may not make a lot of sense, but for us, this is kind of a way to remember and celebrate and honor those whom we love.
As I'm in the line (I got my number at 7am and the book opened at 8:30am), I realize that, at number 18, there's no way I'm going to make my 9am meeting with a consult about therapy for Bobby. If you arent there when your number is called, you lose your spot. No joke, this process can take all freaking day. Our former parish limited you to 5 Masses per year; our new one? 12. And people team up (again, no joke). And, by far, I'm about 40 years younger than the youngest person in the room. As I come in and sit, I overhear talking...
Alot of people are requesting for their children. They're telling fellow parishioners the stories of their sons and daughters.... It hurts to hear... It's a comfort to know I'm not the only one, and yet... They've lived for so much longer without their beloved, wanted children. Some died as babies, some as children, some as adults.... The gentleman across from me overheard my call to my "big sister", who is my Confirmation sponsor and a dear friend, explaining that I couldnt miss this appointment and asking if she could be #18 for an hour. (And, because she's SO awesome, she drove from the next town over and took my spot for an hour). When I hung up, he and I chatted. He was easily 60 years old. He's getting Masses for his children who have died. He has been... for the last 20 years.
With a look that says he totally gets it, he says, "I know... It's like you have to do it. You need to."
There's nothing else I can do. No other way I can mother them. I cant plan a 5th birthday party or a 4th birthday party... There will be no celebrations for First Communion or Confirmation or graduation. No wedding showers. No weddings or rehearsal dinners or receptions. No baby showers. Only this. Only this yearly Mass, with breakfast to follow and a trip to the Shrine to see their candle.
Yeah, I need to.
Thanks to E, my place wasnt lost, and I was able to request the 8am Mass on Feb 1st and 16th, and Nov 23rd of next year. And, as I left, relief flooding me, I thought thank God.
The world wouldnt have ended had those days been taken already, but I dont even want to think about the three new cracks my heart would have had to make room for.