Yesterday was a beautiful day. Well, not really, but we had a very nice day together as a family. The weather could not interfere with our plans ...it was overcast, occasionally thunderous, and rather on the cool side, but since we were at Mass and then in a church basement devouring barbecued chicken and 43 kinds of dessert, we couldn't have cared less what the weather was doing!
We traveled down to Fr. E.'s new parish for the parish picnic. There were several other families there that we knew, bring the total of visiting children up to 28! After we ate, several of us wives just stayed at our table, sharing desserts with one another and gabbing to a fare-thee-well, for Pete's sake, while the husbands followed the children and played bingo. One husband commented that we were clearly having too much fun, and that we were going to have to lay off the desserts......which did not happen.
The better part of the county was without power, including the little white church in which we celebrated Mass. The morning light came in through the stained glass (and a few plain glass) windows, and the gentle glow of the candles made me feel as though we had somehow stepped back in time when we walked through the doors. It's such a pretty little church--not a lot of pomp, just the lovely statues and truly beautiful Stations of the Cross, with bronze plaques beneath each one, telling the devotee what's happening at that point. The colors are muted, the bronze darkened with age.
Both of this baby's Godparents were there, as our friend Teresa was there with her family, and Fr. E. is the baby's Godfather. It is consoling, somehow, to know that these two dear people are loving and praying for our baby!
One of my demons is depression. It's always been there, sometimes burrowed so deep that I forget it's even there, but sometimes lurking just under the surface. That's what it's doing now. I know better now how to cope with it, but sometimes it's persistent enough that it's not easily shaken.
I'm not sure what exactly has been the demon's summoner this time--I suspect a multitude of things, and I suppose it's just all building up. I know that every mom experiences feelings of inadequacy, which at this point, seems a bit ridiculous, but that's definitely part of it...Saturday, especially, was an unpleasant day around here. There was lots of quarreling, lots of sassing, the pouting was of epic proportion, and of course, this all converged over my head with the demon subtly whispering, "You're just not doing a good enough job...else they wouldn't be behaving so badly. You're not praying well enough, you're not disciplining effectively, you're not consistent enough, you're too hard on them, you're not hard enough on them..." On and on it seemed to go.
My heart still misses Gabriel, and this time of year I seem to mourn my dad all over again. I miss him so much sometimes that it catches my breath and holds it back from me--never for very long, but long enough. I wonder how he would have been with the Pickle (who was a mere 2 years when Pop died) and the Reepicheep (who was only 8 months). I wonder how he would have liked this home...we moved here only a few months after he died. I wonder how he would have loved the Monkey and this new baby. That's the hardest--at least I remember how he was with the older three for the short time he knew them, but to have babies that he will never have seen and will never see is so bittersweet. My small consolation is knowing that he sees my two little Saints, and that we will see him--and them--one day.
Having dealt with this particular demon for most of my life, I guess I'm a fair hand at pushing it back in the corner when I need to, but only for short periods. To really deal with it, to really win the battle, only prayer helps. Time with Mama Mary, time with Jesus in the Eucharist, time at Mass, these are the things that work this demon out of my heart.
It's good to have friends with whom I can just fall into God's arms in prayer. There are a few who are so gifted with just the right heart, who can really search another's heart and know what truth lies there. God has fortified this time for me, I know, by placing these prayer warrior friends in my life like guardians, allowing me to rest in His strength through their prayers, and bringing me even closer to Him.
The stunning thing is that sometimes I'm not even aware of them--He uses so many people in such subtle ways that I am in awe of these mysteries. I met up with a dear lady from my choir yesterday, and her words to me were an absolute boon. She had no idea, I know, that her words of encouragement and appreciation lifted my spirits for a good long while after our short visit together. A guardian! And to be able to just sit with other women and connect our hearts cemented the knowledge that I Am Blessed, that through this thing, I can truly give thanks.
I ask that you keep all women who struggle with the depression demon on your hearts in prayer, especially those who look to other ways of coping. So many women succumb to depression, post-partum and otherwise, in ways that are destructive to themselves and their families because they just don't know any other way. Please pray for them and for their families, that God would touch their hearts in an unmistakable way and lead them from the darkness and into His light.