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Just. Perfect.

By Maralise Petersen

I hear him talking to Sister S* on the phone.  He’s making small talk (quite a feat!) before inviting her to speak about charity on Sunday.  He’s happy, she must have accepted.  They continue to talk but their conversation fades as I look at the disastrous kitchen.  Because of a full working day and Christmas shopping (NO I’M NOT DONE YET), this room has been sorely neglected.

The breakfast dishes are scattered on both counters, so are lunch and snack dishes.  The table holds the remnants of the dinner meal (held at 8 pm) and on the stove is the mess that I made while cooking.  By mid-cleaning, I’m tired and ready for bed.  And then I see it.  The wax that covers the circular cheese that the kids ate for a snack has been squished into the grout on the floor.  It is mocking my ability to clean, making its bid for permanent residency.  I swear.  Loudly.  And then I hear hubby’s voice again, he’s laughing at me, at us.  Inviting people to speak about charity one minute, swearing the next.

*****

They did an amniocentesis and discovered that my friend’s baby had a serious genetic disorder in her 5th month of pregnancy.  They told her that he could die at any time.  The ward fasted for a miracle.  My hubby gave the young wife a blessing. We held a baby shower, she was brilliant in her mother-ness, her hope.  The miracle of healing didn’t happen but a beautiful baby boy was born and loved and cared for.   7 weeks after his birth and after a few wonderful days of progress and nurturing, he slipped away to return to heaven.

****

McDonald’s isn’t the most inspiring place to talk but while my two kids are shoving fries into their mouths (the first time in hours that they’ve stopped complaining), it gives us a few minutes without being interrupted.  We talk about her friends who are pregnant, ready to give birth any day.  We talk about how she wants to raise the now-gone baby in heaven, how she wants to live well so that she can be with him again.  She talks about his progress, the small miracles that let them have him for as long as they did.  She has good days and bad.  She says that everything is different and yet everything is the same, strangely like before she had him.

****

When my hubby got called I didn’t realize how much I could love people that I didn’t know, that I didn’t share a language or country with.  But I’ve also been surprised at my capacity for frustration and the ease of giving in to judgment and anger.

When everyone was praying for a miracle, for the baby to be healed, I was praying that this wish would not destroy us.  But we did see miracles.  The ward pulled together in thought and mind for a sweet if short period.  There was love and caring and openness that had previously been unprecedented.    The young couple looked and acted like they were being carried by angel’s wings.  Their smiles and love for this imperfect and beautiful child showed us all that love is not for those that are perfect anyway.

****

After hubby and I are both in bed and asleep, our littlest one falls off his bed onto the wood-covered-concrete floor.  We run to his side, both desiring to sweep him into our arms and quiet his cries (while checking for broken bones, of course).  Hubby wins, he gets there first.   And I’m left as spectator to a father nurturing his child.  The night is dark, it seems starless, but I know it’s not.  Sometimes, it’s just the cloud cover that blocks my ability to see the small twinkles of light that dot the night sky.

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About Maralise Petersen

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17 thoughts on “Just. Perfect.”

  1. "Just Perfect" captures an honest segment of daily "Mormon" life. Like everyone, we deal with life and death; loud kids; phone calls and prayers; french fries and complaints. Somehow all of this brings us closer to God.

    Reply
  2. For a second there I thought you were in my kitchen. But my wood floor is covered with layers of dirt I haven't mopped in awhile. And I tried to finish the dishes, but didn't. And my Christmas shopping isn't done either!

    Thanks for this post.

    Reply
  3. I'm sure that sweet little boy's parents are thankful for the time they had with their little angel. What a miracle seven weeks was, although not as long as they had expected, those weeks were certainly a blessing.

    Some say that the pain of losing a child heals over time, but I don't necessarily agree. Life that continues to push forward, keeping us busily distracted proving a sense of comfort by preventing us from having the time to think about what could have been.

    In those moments she will be appreciative of your time and comfort, even in McDonald's.

    We will keep her family in our thoughts and prayers.

    Beautiful post Maralise.

    Reply
  4. Maralise, I love the structure and the spirit of this post. You have captured the dichotomy of emotions and created a lovely piece for them to reside in with honesty.
    Thank you for this. It was just the gift I needed today.

    Reply
  5. I, too, am well acquainted with grief, and with the anticipated reunion on the other side of the veil. I pray for that family. Pass along my email address if you'd like. I have talked to many Mothers who have lost their children and helped them through the difficult times. It is just helpful to know someone else has been there.
    She is lucky to have you as a friend.

    Reply
  6. Did you steal this part straight out of my head or are we living parallel lives?

    "When my hubby got called I didn’t realize how much I could love people that I didn’t know, that I didn’t share a language or country with. But I’ve also been surprised at my capacity for frustration and the ease of giving in to judgment and anger."

    That is why it was bittersweet when my husband was released a few weeks ago.

    While he was still serving there was a particular sister who showed up once a month without her children, just enough to get assistance. I thought the branch president was being blinded by charity. It infuriated me and when my husband said he'd be late getting home one night because he had to take her a check I didn't make it easy on him.

    Last week that young mother off handedly said that the doctor gave her a clean bill of health, that there would be no more treatments.

    "What treatments?" I said.

    "Oh, you didn't know? I had a hysterectomy, I had cancer."

    The lesson I learned I'll do my best to always carry with me.

    Reply
  7. Beautiful! Thankyou very much for sharing a part of all of our lives here, and so very poignantly. My sis gave birth to a gorgeous little girl with a serious heart defect. Sadly, she was called home at 8 months old. I am so glad that we had taken every opportunity to spend time with her;but it still hurts every day. We used to tease Lori that Devan was velcro'd to her arms. A while after the funeral, Lori said that she had known since Devan's birth that her time here would be short, and so she never put her down if she could help it. She would need every touch to help her get through the grief that would be her companion for the rest of her life.

    My sis taught me that every second is precious, and that what we see is not necessarily what is really there.

    Reply
  8. Oh, hennchix, your comment really got me.

    This was nice, Mara. Especially applicable to me right now:
    "The night is dark, it seems starless, but I know it’s not. Sometimes, it’s just the cloud cover that blocks my ability to see the small twinkles of light that dot the night sky."

    Reply
  9. "I was praying that this wish would not destroy us."

    I'm there, all to often. Hope is stranger I don't trust.

    Thanks for this post.

    Reply

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