As our family grows, we are often brought back to those moments of raw suffering, and it is there that the Lord reminds us of our purpose on earth.
by Heidi Indhal
Before the close of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, I want to share one more story with you. This is Henry’s story and his mom, Molly, tells it in a beautiful way.
As I held my precious son, Henry Blaise, his soul born into heaven, his body still warm in my arms, the consolation of the Lord flooded over me. I recalled the words the Savior had spoken to me months prior. They were words I had heard so clearly, but wished with all my heart to be a figment of my imagination, words I mercifully forgot until that moment I held our stillborn son in my arms.
It was a question asked of me when I was five months pregnant during a weekend on a silent Ignatian retreat, “Would you not sacrifice your child if it would be my will?” I had entered my retreat asking God to show me ways in which our family could grow in holiness, and he was intent on teaching me about trustful surrender to divine providence.
Henry Blaise was our fifth child, born Dec. 1, 2008, at 38 weeks, five days gestation. I went into labor, but when we arrived at the hospital, they were unable to find a heartbeat. He was quickly born into my arms, beautifully and perfectly formed. The cause of his passing is unknown, and we count him among the saints in heaven, our family’s most powerful and intimately-known intercessor.
Our four other young children journeyed with us into a season of deep sorrow and grief, yet an unexplainable peace from the Lord accompanied us. Postpartum hormones raged, my arms were empty and my heart was heavy, but the question posed to me months previous somehow brought a sense of restfulness. I knew that the Lord had gathered our son to himself because it was a part of his divine will, and because I had said yes to him.
My husband, Brendan, and I began to offer back to the Lord every moment of sorrow, the challenges of parenting young children amidst grief, the days when we didn’t want to get out of bed because it was just too much. Slowly, we experienced a perspective in our parenting that we hadn’t yet solidified as our mission, but now fully embraced. We would do whatever was required to run with persistence toward heaven and take our children with us. Preserving the innocence of our children while still openly addressing the hard things of our faith, life, death and resurrection took on a whole new meaning for us. If it was truly our calling as parents to walk alongside our children to heaven, then we already had known the joy of that accomplished goal, by God’s grace, in offering Henry to the Lord, allowing his will to take hold of our lives.
As our family grows, we are often brought back to those moments of raw suffering, and it is there that the Lord reminds us of our purpose on earth. It is in knowing, loving and serving him, and offering back to him our suffering, our inadequacies and our shortcomings that we find joy and fulfillment. Since Henry’s birth, we’ve said goodbye to three more wee, but powerful saints, quickly swept into heaven in the first trimester, and welcomed four more babies which the Lord has given us to raise. Each day, we find ourselves offering all of our children back to our Heavenly Father.
“They’re yours, Lord. Never let us take for granted the gifts you have given to us in abundance.”
To this day, I continue to learn of the impact Henry’s short, but purposeful life has had on the world. A mommy begging for his prayers as she rushes to deliver her pre-term baby who hasn’t been moving. Parents asking his intercession when they find themselves in the deepest valley of depression and grief. Hearing a friend say, “I asked Henry to pray for me today,” are some of my proudest moments as a mother.
I still have days when the sorrow is just too much to bear, but the Lord finds me there and draws me to himself. On the hardest days, I’ve pondered whether I might have responded differently to those words from Jesus months before I held Henry in my arms. My answer doesn’t often come as freely as that day when such deep sorrow had never been known. Father, give me the strength to always pray, in all things, not my will, but yours.
Molly and her husband, Brendan, live in Ham Lake, Minnesota. They are the parents to 12 eternal souls, four girls and four boys in their home, and four children in heaven. Their family saint gallery was previously featured here on Peanut Butter & Grace. Can you find Henry?