Great Lent starts tomorrow, a time we refer to as “bright sadness.” “Bright sadness” has a profound meaning to us this year. I am looking forward to Pascha deeply. I will be back to church about three weeks before Pascha, and I have a feeling it will be an especially emotional one for me this year.
Pascha: Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life.
We have that hope and faith for our departed child, and I think Lent and Pascha will have a significance to me this year that they have never had in the past. Seraphim’s birth and passing came in close proximity to so many things that seemed fitting, and not just coincidental: he was born and reposed a few days before the first Saturday of Souls, before the Sunday of the Last Judgement, and of course before Lent. I will be churched and his 40-day memorial will be on the 4th Saturday of Lent–the last Saturday of Souls.
Why do babies die? I have had a lot of answers for this over the years. The most simple is that sin affects us all, even the sinless. That’s a very Orthodox answer–a very Brothers Karamazov truth. I realised in the past three months that for whatever reason, we needed a saint praying us to heaven throughout our lives, and that little saint would be our son. I have never felt anger at God for the death of infants; it is not God’s cruelty that causes infants to die.
In Fr. Steven’s article, he explains: “Disease and physical deformities are a part of this world, caused by humankind’s initial alienation from God—and providentially allowed by God. Thus a child is never too young to die. And hence the tragic nature of life, nowhere more clearly revealed than in the death of an innocent infant.”
I have read this article at least a half dozen time in the past couple of months. It has been a comfort to me, in the months leading up to Seraphim’s birth and in the interim between his death and his funeral. I read it again today.
I feel like I was so numb through Seraphim’s funeral (mostly I was trying to experience and not become out of control with weeping so I only halfway listened to the prayers and felt enough peace) that I don’t remember many of the prayers. I have been rereading the service to remember and to help with the emotional and spiritual healing. I am taking time for my healing; it’s going to be a long process and the pain of losing our baby will never go away completely. If I am honest with myself with that, maybe I can keep moving forward.