Each time I hear the song Silent Night (which is often around the holidays) my heart gets heavy in my chest and it gets harder to breath.
I always used to think it was kind of funny that Mary experienced a silent night after the birth of Jesus, I mean we must assume that Jesus was probably a very easy baby and he probably didn’t cry much that night, but it feels excruciating to think about because after the birth of James, I too had a silent night. The night he was born and I had to return home and around me everyone moved in hushed tones, everything was frozen, calm. At first things did appear bright, I felt enveloped in the prayers and supplications of my friends and family and I could feel the light that comes with hope for a happy future, for something good coming from something bad.
Having a stillborn child has taught me so much about myself. I think I always thought that the line, “mother and child” referred to her and the Savior, but with new perspective I see that Mary was both a mother and still just a child. She still had so much to learn about her role as the mother of the Savior, a special and difficult calling. Her child’s life had great purpose from the beginning and through scripture we see that often she lost sight of His calling (when she finds Him in the temple and rebukes Him).
When you become a mother, you realize there is SO much learning to do, you return to a childlike state. You needed people to take care of you, to minister, to guide you through the difficult journey of raising your child. Each of our children has an earthly mission and we, as mothers and parents, are to help our children discover and understand what their role in this world is, and we are discovering what it is along with them (often at a slower pace). As a mother of a stillborn child, I do not fully understand what James’ mission was, but I do know that his presence in my life was necessary for me to become who Heavenly Father wants me to be.
Stillbirth is not a subject people like to talk about. It is scary and many “quake, at the sight,” but the reality that 1 in 160 births is a stillbirth in the US is something to ponder. It pains my heart when I am connected with another mother who has recently experienced this loss. It truly is unique and heartbreaking and utterly indescribable. But through it, I have found strength within myself to focus upon the good, to be able to still sing “Hallelujah.” For though my precious child was unable to live, the Savior was born and through His redeeming sacrifice I know that I will be able to be reunited with my child. That is something to sing and shout hallelujah to.
I have always loved the line, “love’s pure light.” It so beautifully and precisely describes the Savior. It was discovered long ago that December 25th is not the actual day the Savior was born but was more likely in April. So why do we celebrate in December still? Christmas comes during the darkest time of the year, literally. The Winter Solstice is tomorrow which marks the darkest day of the year, the day with shortest amount of time the sun shines before we start moving towards greater light. The Savior is the “light of the world” and in times of darkness, His life shines as a beacon of hope and “redeeming grace.” The reminder of His birth is needed during this time of year.
This trial has taken me on paths where there has been deep darkness and where hope seemed futile. However, as dark as it seemed, at the end of each day I would remember the grace I received in days, weeks, years prior and know that light existed. I might not always be able to see it, but it exists.
So with renewed perspective, I see this time of the year differently. I have always had the choice to only see the darkness or to see the sparkling lights contrasted against that darkness, glittering, standing out along each street as a small, simple reminder of hope. I pray that I can continue to focus upon the light and to grow in that process.