Marking Time

I am a time marker. I'm not talking about marking time with a watch, I'm talking about marking seasons, anniversaries. Making connections between what was then and what is now. Trying to spot differences, see changes.

Kuri asked how Gabe's church came to be Gabe's church. I didn't have words for my voice, but I can type the story. It is too hard to explain in words. It makes less sense, it becomes less than it is.

I allow, on the face of it, it's odd for an Anglo Canadian Anglican to give her dead child an American French Catholic church. There's nothing about it that would suggest that it is Gabe's church, or even should be. There's no Gabriel in the name, there's no altar or bell or statue named for Gabriel. And yet, it is Gabe's church. The priest there lights a candle at St. Joseph's altar for Gabe on Mother's Day, Father's Day, and his birthday. And it gives me comfort on those days, to think of a small candle burning, for my small child, to think that I am not the only one who remembers. To think that Gabriel lives beyond my words and memories.

Gabriel's church is truly Gabriel's church, and the prayer dieu at the feet of the statue of St. Joseph is Gabe's spot - because that's where I wound up. The church is Gabe's to carry on a bit of a pun, because of an entirely pedestrian reason.

To give you a bit of background, the social worker at the hospital suggested way back on December 11, 2007 that we go away for Gabe's due date, that we be anywhere other than at home. The truth is, when your baby dies before their due date, you live in strange time. You live in time out of time. You expect, somehow, that you will be given a baby on your due date. Oh, it's insane magical thinking, but there you have it.

The day of Gabe's due date was not so bad. The day after was bad. That day -the day after- that was the day we arrived in San Francisco, and we walked past an old French Church, and we walked in, and I turned immediately to my left, and there was St. Joseph. You might argue that St. Elizabeth, or the Virgin Mary were more appropriate, and I won't disagree. But, they were further up the nave, and St. Joseph was right around the corner, as it were.

"I'm broken".

"Will it ever stop hurting? Will I ever have another child? Will we always be lost? How do you come back from this tragedy?"

And St. Joseph, he said nothing, and I stared at his toe nails, and sighed and got up. I light a candle for Gabriel, and we walked out. And I left a bit of my confusion there. I know no other way to explain it. It was the smallest bit, it was the smallest sense, miniscule really, so tiny you could mistake if for something else. But, I was a bit less confused, a bit more certain. I could live a bit more. This wasn't ok that day, but it would be someday. Someday I would have some answers.

And that's all. It's no real miracle, or rather is is the most common of miracles. Small, ordinary, lost if you aren't looking for it. It's a miracle based on the way God works, in small and unlikely places, His majesty only evident if you look.

And I went back again yesterday, before I left. Running down the street before we walked back down Powell one last time. I took all of my American coin, and I sat in knelt in front of St. Joseph. I lit 3 candles, one for each of us, and I announced that I was less broken.

Oh, it still hurts, I'm still not sure how you recover from a tragedy like this, and the answer to my question about another baby is "no". But. . .

I mark time. I marked who I was when I went in the first time, and who I am now, and I looked at his toe nails, and I smiled back in, and I lit a candle for my tiny boy, and I remembered Gabe's face, and I smiled this time.

And that is about the only answer I'm likely to get. But, on the whole of it, it's enough.