Yesterday we had a Funeral Mass here for a little baby girl, Sarah Ann. We tried to support her parents and family around the Altar and through God’s Word. It was lovely to see so many people there with the family, offering support and the certainty of their presence, even in the uncertainty of the moment. I want to share the few lines used at Mass yesterday. I hope they might bring comfort, maybe to a reader, who knows all too well the story of loss in these circumstances.
Dear Mammy, Daddy, Amy and Seán,
Thank you for your letters, I’ve read them over and over. Amy’s picture of the church is lovely. It’s great to have them and I know that I’ll often look at them. I thought maybe I should write to you too. I hope it makes sense …
Thanks for welcoming me! I felt so safe with you – that seems a daft thing to say since how else could I feel. I loved the way you talked about me and, though you might not have said it out loud, wondered what I’d be like, who I’d be like. I wondered that too. Chances are, I’d be like both of you. Now that wouldn’t have been bad.
I was ready to meet ye. I so looked forward to it. Amy was so grown up in my world with her talk of school and friends and games and dresses … She seems like great fun. I know she’d have made me very welcome. I loved that black dress she has and all the red flowers on it. I thought I might borrow it sometime. I felt so lucky to have her as a sister and knew we’d always be friends.
Seán! Now what can I say about him? He’s mighty crack. In fairness he might have preferred if I was a boy. He imagined us having all sorts of adventures around the house, playing in old cars and hiding things in places nobody would find. Things like Jammy Dodger biscuits, cap guns, spanners … He’s a live wire for sure. Was he ready for another sister? I know now that he was. To be honest, I’d have loved to play around the house with him and I love cars, even the Vectra that was sprayed Green and Red last September! The games around the house, the hidden biscuits, the endless laughter and wondering what he’d do next! … You’re the best Seán.
It’s great to have the four grandparents. I know that many children don’t. I know that they are sad for mammy and daddy but I hope not too sad. All I wanted was to make them happy. I’m glad they’re here now and I know they’ll be a great help. Thanks for loving me too. I’ll always love ye.
These last few days have been strange for us all. None of us expected this. I hate to see you all so sad, my parents, brother and sister, my uncles, aunts, grandparents and all of you here today. I know there are other mammies and daddies here who know what this feels like. I’m sorry you are sad. Like all of you, I wish it were different. None of us saw this coming but we’re here now, it’s an hour we have to go through. Jesus told me he had an hour like this too, in a garden when he didn’t know what was happening. He said his best friends fell asleep while he worried. He put his hand on my head and said, “Your friends didn’t sleep Sarah …. they’re all awake with you” – I knew what he meant.
You’ve all done your best for me. I love the names you gave me. Sarah! What a mighty woman? She was kind and giving and had such a hearty laugh. She believed in God even when it was hard to believe. God never forgot about her and sent a little baby to her when she was very old. God doesn’t forget about anyone. I know He is with us all today and always will be. Ann? I love that name too. She was Mary’s mother and helped Mary so much. Mary is kind. She doesn’t say a lot but she notices everything. She was one of the first to hold me. She told me I’d be fine but I knew she felt sorry for all of you too so I told her how much you did for me.
I told her about the Butterfly people who’d made little clothes for me. I told her about the photographs you have of me. My footprints, handprints and the teddies Seán and Amy gave me. She noticed the little Rosary Beads too and I told her it was mammy’s. She cried a little, as if she knew what sadness means but then she smiled when I told her about Amy’s black dress with the red flowers … She laughed out loud when I showed her the red flowers … “Sarah”, she said “did you take those from your sister?” “No Mary, she cut them off herself and gave them to me. I think that means ….. ”
… and, before I could finish Mary said, “Yes, it does Sarah Ann, it means she loves you …… they all love you”,
I felt happy then because I know how much you all love me. That will never change. I love you too.
Look after one another.
Sarah Ann xxx