Amazingly enough, I actually have a story to post this week!
This was inspired by my great-grandmother, the woman who used to live in my house! I don’t want to give the story away, so I’ll explain a bit further at the end. Enjoy!
A Mother’s Heart
I hugged Millie close to me as I rocked her in the dark. She slept the peaceful sleep of an infant secure in the arms of her mother. Another tear trickled down my face as I wondered if I would ever sleep peacefully again.
A month ago, I was the mother of six. Baby Millie had five brothers and sisters. The older children adored their baby sister. They had taken turns holding her, singing to her and counting her ten little toes. Being a mother to that many in the Maine woods meant that my days were more than busy, but I loved all of my children dearly. What mother doesn’t? But that was before…
My oldest daughter was the first to develop a cough. I knew that many families had lost children to this illness, but at first I refused to believe that it could happen to us. It spread quickly to the rest of the children. Every spare moment I had was spent on my knees by their bedsides, begging God to save them. I sat and watched the labored, shallow breaths finally cease altogether. The broken cries wrenched from my lips were the sounds of a mother’s heart breaking, over and over again.
I couldn’t stop the tears the first time we buried a child. By the time we buried the fifth, I was so numb with soul-deep grief that the tears would no longer come. No parent should ever have to bury a child… let alone five.
I became terrified that I would lose my baby girl as well. I barely slept. I was beyond exhaustion, but I didn’t dare sleep. What if something happened to my Millie while my eyes were closed? I spent hours of every night, holding her tightly as I dared, praying desperately that God would spare my last child.
How can I explain it? The life of your child is precious to you beyond measure. But the past month had taught me just how fragile those precious lives are. My heart was in tatters, and my faith was hanging by a thread in the face of such tragedy. Even so, I clung to that thread of faith as if my life depended on it. I suppose it did.
For many long months, I kept up my night vigils. Gradually, they became fewer. I never did sleep as well as I had before. You never forget your child. The faces of mine continued to haunt my dreams occasionally. Eventually, some of the worry calmed. I was always mindful of the danger of losing a child, but it no longer consumed my thoughts. And the importance of cherishing each moment with Millie and her younger brother stayed with me for the rest of my life.
Millie was my great-grandmother. Her parents did lose all five of her older siblings in less than a month, probably to influenza. God later gave them another son, Millie’s younger brother. Those are the facts that I have, the rest is merely speculation on my part.