One Waiting for Us

My husband Mark and I used to make a trip to the maternity ward every couple of years.  Given our track record, it was a good idea to have an extra home pregnancy kit tucked away on a bathroom shelf.  One month, I did not really think I was pregnant but since I was late, I took it just to rule out a pregnancy

The pink line that emerged indicating a positive result, took my breath away. I would be 47 when the baby was due. We had recently added an orphan boy from Kenya so now we were a family of eleven.

“Hey Mark, we’re going to have another baby,” I announced to my husband, showing him the pink line. We looked at each other, wide-eyed. We shared a strong understanding that each little soul is a gift from God that will last an eternity. Still, I’d be forty-seven and Mark forty-eight.   As we adjusted to the news, I discovered that our willingness to accept new life led us closer to God.  Instead of thinking of things like money, opinions of others and our advanced age, we would trust God to provide for us in this transitory world. New life had begun and would forever be a part of our family.

Just the previous week, my eight-year-old daughter Teresa, had expressed hope that I would have another baby. When I pointed out that older women did not usually have babies, she reminded me that Elizabeth was older when she had John the Baptist. I just smiled and said:  “You never know.”


Well, now we knew. The younger kids were ecstatic. I thought the older kids would be taken aback (we had one in college, three in high school, one in junior high, and four younger ones) but they all said that given my history, they pretty much expected it. Friends and family registered surprise. After all, they had been secretly guessing that we were finally “done.”

Not for this World

Then, at three months, I miscarried for the first time. I had some early warnings, so by the time it happened, it was not a surprise. The enormity of my loss did not really hit me until I was alone at morning Mass a couple days later. I had requested that my kids ask God to let us know the sex of the baby. My oldest, Aaron, suggested I give it a unisex name and leave it at that. “I would really like to know who it was,” I explained, “so please ask God to somehow let us know.”

It was just before Mass, two days after the miscarriage, that I suddenly felt a deep sense of knowing that the baby had been a boy—Matthew.  We chose that name to go with our Mark, Luke and John, members of the family. Realizing I had a son suddenly filled me with a deep awareness that my very own child was with God now. I knew there was no greater place to be but still, a maternal sadness washed over me. My little son, Matthew, was our only baby I did not get to hold in my arms and have with me. He was the only one that his big brothers and sisters missed out on in this world.

I shed a few tears but was filled with peace that I knew who my baby was now.  Then, after Mass, before leaving for home, the thought occurred to me that although I was convinced I had a son in heaven, other family members (especially the teens) might say:  “Mom, you really don’t know for sure.”

I sent up a quick prayer. “Dear God, I accept that my son is with you now, but it would mean a lot to me if you would somehow let the others know the baby was a boy.” I wanted my husband to know his son and the children to have a relationship with a little brother in heaven.

A Phone Call

I kept the morning’s experience to myself. Then, just a few hours later, Aaron called me from Fargo, where he attended college and was living for the summer. “Mom, I’m in a big hurry, but I just wanted to call to tell you I know the baby was a boy.”

Aaron had dreamed two nights in a row of a baby. In the first dream, a baby had died but he was confused. The next night, he had the same dream but this time, when he looked at the baby, he knew it was his little brother. In the dream he looked at me and we nodded at one another in understanding.

“Oh, Aaron, I just asked God this morning to somehow let everyone else know it was a boy.” I explained my own experience to him, marveling at my answered prayer. My oldest had connected with my youngest, from heaven to earth.

There was no time to talk, however, because Aaron was in a hurry to participate in a study, which paid very good money to college students. We said good-bye and I learned the rest of the story later.


Helping His Big Brother

Aaron arrived at the study site only minutes after our conversation. By all rights, he should have been disqualified during the screening because his heart started racing when his pulse was taken.  Since, the study had been overbooked, they were looking for any reason to start bumping students. Aaron knew from experience that an above-normal heart rate was a typical factor used to bump students. It was Aaron’s nervousness that caused his fast heart rate but he could not get himself to calm down. He began asking his little brother, Matthew, to help him. Aaron really needed the money for expenses. His pulse was taken two more times, each time measuring faster than the previous rate.

It seemed hopeless. The study director looked at him and then at the nurse beside him who was recording the results. “Please Matthew,” Aaron prayed, “Please help me get into this study.”  But Aaron braced himself, waiting to be told he was dismissed. There’s no way, now, he thought.

Looking at Aaron in the eyes, the director paused and then stated quietly to the nurse at his side: “Let him in.” The nurse registered surprise. She opened her mouth as if to protest but then quickly followed the doctor as they went onto the next participant.

A euphoric disbelief and awe filled Aaron’s soul. It seemed impossible. He was in! And it was his little brother that got him in. It had to be.

It’s been over eight years now since we lost Matthew. Although, spiritually speaking, we will never lose him. He will always love us, his family, and always hear our prayers.  He knows more than we do, and his love is greater than ours.  Even though it would have been great to hold him on this earth, it is a grace to have him holding us in his heart now in heaven.

Patti Maguire Armstrong, is the mother of 10, and has a B.A. in social work and M.A. in public administration. Her newest book is Holy Hacks: Everyday Ways to Live Your Faith & Get to Heaven. Others include Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories from Everyday Families and the Amazing Grace Series. Follow her at @PattiArmstrong and read her blog at PattiMaguireArmstrong.com.

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