AN AUTHOR, AN ANGEL & A HEALING BRICK

I lost my infant son almost 30 years ago.

He was my only child and I donated his tiny precious body to Science in the hopes that through medical education he could somehow prevent another person from knowing my heartbreak.

I knew I didn’t need a gravesite to honor him; I could honor him in my heart. And I didn’t think I needed a piece of granite to grieve him.

But I was wrong.

Last year, I learned about Richard Paul Evans, author of the book, “The Christmas Box”, and about a statue that he commissioned called, “The Christmas Box Angel Statue”.

The short version is this:

He wrote a fictional story in which he mentioned a woman grieving the loss of her baby while at the foot of a beautiful statue of an angel.

The book was published and soon grieving readers began inquiring of the location of the statue, and since it no longer existed, the author had one created.

It is bronze and beautiful, and surrounded by a hexagon of 800 paving bricks, which can be purchased and engraved with a name or message in honor of a lost child.

angel statue frm afar

There are now Christmas Box Angel Statues all across the country and each year on December 6th at 7:00 pm, there is a candlelight vigil held at every one of them.

Last year I got my son’s engraved memory brick. The first time I saw it, I was overwhelmed. I had no idea how desperately I needed healing. Until it happened.

I wrote this piece a few months later:

THE HEALING BRICK

Nervously, I approach the Angel Statue thinking I’ll have to search for my son’s recently engraved and installed paving brick, but I look down and there it is, nestled in amongst all the other little angels, his name in print, for the entire world to see.

This sight provokes something unfamiliar in me, deep in my soul, in my very core. I kneel down and through my thin grey slacks I can feel the cold, hard, roughness of the bricks on my knees.

“My knees could bleed as I pay homage”, I think, as if atoning, “let them; I would almost be grateful.”

I touch his name.

“Oh sweetie, look at you; you’re finally here.” I whisper.

006

Humbly, I bend down and kiss his words. Instantly I flash back to the hospital and he is in my arms again, and now I am not feeling the cold textured brick, but I am kissing his face.

I open my eyes, tears streaming.

Like a cat coughing up an unmanageable hairball, thirty years of guilt, grief, and torment begin to rise, large and ugly, from deep within and catch in my throat.

I remember when I was pregnant with him and how I didn’t watch my diet and I didn’t reduce my stress and I didn’t get enough sleep. And I remember laboring, and how I screamed, “Don’t let me die!” but I didn’t scream for the life of my own son.

“Please, forgive me.” I whisper.

I hear a guttural animal groan escape from inside me as the words allow my agony to detach itself and release.

I was like a broken bone that had healed misaligned and needed to be re-broken so that it could be set right and mend properly.

Michael’s brick has been my one quick SNAP! I am now re-broken, re-set, and relieved.

I am deeply comforted and grateful, and finally healing well.

*****

I cherish the moments. Please read, “WOULD I GRIEVE A SUNRISE?” at: http://wp.me/p2ckKM-cH.

Will you please share this? Too often the loss of an infant is suffered quietly and alone, and whether it was yesterday or 30 years ago, healing is needed. I hope that this helps you or someone you know.

For the location of a Christmas Box Angel Statue near you, or information about purchasing a memory brick, please visit the website of Richard Paul Evans at: www.richardpaulevans.com/angel-statues/locations.

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Categories: Grief/Healing, Holidays/Birthdays, Inspiration/Motivation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 63 Comments

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63 thoughts on “AN AUTHOR, AN ANGEL & A HEALING BRICK

  1. Lovely. Thank you for sharing this.

  2. Just beautiful.

  3. A Table in the Sun

    What a heartfelt story of loss and healing. Your words will truly make a difference to many. Thank you.

    • Theresa, thank you so much for reading and for your kind words. I hope you are right about this piece helping someone else. I just checked out your blog’s “about” section, but I couldn’t leave a comment; not sure why. But I liked it a lot and look forward to reading more. You’ve never blogged before, but you write beautifully and clear of clutter, which most folks don’t realize is not always so easy to do. Take care and thanks again. xoJulia

  4. Beautiful words, Julia.
    The loss of an infant is the loss of a future.
    I have a hard time wrapping my head around how time can stand still when you come home from the hospital with empty arms and a hole in your heart that is so hard to fill.
    I want to thank you for helping me as I try to fill the teardrop shaped hole in my heart.
    :-*

    • Thank you, dear friend. I stayed in the maternity ward after losing Michael; that was pure torture. Thankfully, hospitals have improved light-years since then and since the entire death, dying, grieving movement happened. I remember wanting so desperately to get pregnant many years later, but I was terrified of the pain (Michael was transverse (sideways), so I had to have an emergency c-section and I lost a lot of blood and almost didn’t survive it) and someone told me that I remembered the pain so vividly because it wasn’t trumped by the joy of leaving with a baby in my arms. He’s now my strength and I carry him everywhere with me. Thanks for sharing your heart with me. Love you. xoJulia

  5. kewissman@gmail.com

    When our infant daughter died almost 23 years ago one of the seasoned saints at our church sidled up to me to tell me about the death of his infant son over 50 years prior, and that he could empathize with us.

    I asked him maybe a year or so later if the pain ever goes away and he said no. It is always just below the surface and with time the jagged, sharp edges of pain get smoothed down but it’s always there.

    22+ years out and my experience is very similar to his. With grandchildren on the scene now another layer of comfort has been added.

    All the best to you and Merry Christmas!

    Keith

    Sent from my iPad on someone’s WIFI

    • Thank you so much for sharing your story and wisdom with me, Keith. I’m so sorry for your loss, my friend. What a blessing your seasoned saint truly was. I imagine that grandchildren would add another layer of comfort – what a beautiful way to express that. And it’s funny, cuz at the end of this piece, in the footnote, is a link to a piece called, “Would I Grieve a Sunrise”, where I say that the memory brick isn’t sad, but is like a Christmas tree to be adored and celebrated. Thank you so much for taking your time to talk to me. Merry Christmas to you also! xoJulia

  6. Dear Julia
    There are no reL words to express the honor of reading this…there are only feelings. At times I tell myself to rejoice in the promise of eternal life…and the good news is I truly believe we will all live forever reunited in pure bliss. Thank you for your vulnerability..it is really true courage. Love patty..

  7. And finally… What possible reason could this touching, real piece of literary art be censored??????

    • The woman in charge of the program couldn’t live with the image of a hairball! Do you believe it? She thought others would find it as disturbing as she did. I thought it disturbing that it bothered her so much. So she pulled the piece. I was incredibly upset for sometime, but I now see it all as a lacking of some kind on her part. I feel sorry for her that she could care so little . . . or understand the importance of leaving the piece in tact. And just for the record, she’s not a writer or professional of any kind. And so it goes . . . Take care, dear friend, and thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts with me. xoJulia

  8. I am so sorry for your loss… truly.

    I have been spending so much time lately, feeling sorry for myself; I have two beautiful, grown daughters, they are 22 and 23. They do not speak to me any longer because they have felt I was a horrible mother due to my struggle with mental illness; I have bipolar-manic depression, borderline personality disorder, and OCD, but I did the best I could as their mom… it just was not good enough I suppose. One now has two children I don’t get to see, but I do have the peace of knowing they are all healthy… something I know you do not have. Again, I am so sorry.

    Always,
    Me

    • Dear Friend, thank you for your sad and heartfelt words. I can’t imagine the ways you must suffer without your children as part of your life. I’m so very sorry for that. Maybe the future holds a healing time for all of you in it. We can pray on that. I also struggle with bipolar disorder, anxiety, and ocd…..please read my piece called, “Being Bipolar” and let me know what you think. I just “followed” your blog, so maybe we can keep in touch. Love, peace, and blessings are wished for you. Take care of yourself, my friend. xoJulia

  9. Very touching! I’m so sorry for your loss. My mum lost a child 28 years ago and I wish that I could get her a healing brick to have in his memory. It’s a shame that in the UK we don’t have an Angel statue for her to visit. x

    • Maybe you could get her something else to help her honor her lost child/your sibling. A memory tree….a necklace….or some special something that she connects with that reminds her of her baby. It will help. Some women connect with butterflies or angels. You are a beautiful blessing and an angel yoursself, to think of her loss after so many years. I can just imagine how she must cherish you. Thank you for reading and sharing with me. Blesings to you and your mum. xoJulia

  10. Jeff M

    Julia,
    Your posts always open up my eyes, touch my heart and make me activate.
    Thanks -again and again

  11. saymber

    What a beautiful way to continue to heal Julia. Each time we are confronted by core deep grief, for me anyways, I feel like I can carrying the burden more easily. Grief is replaced by gratitude.

    • Thank you so much, Saymber. I agree with your very wise comment. I think I feel the sorrow more deeply, because I’ve learned from past losses to really cherish those in my life, but I think it knocks me down less. I’ve come to expect it in my life. I’ve lost 2 sisters, a brother, and a niece….besides my beautiful baby boy. I’ve had to learn some things……Thank you for reading my blog and always leaving such a warm and thoughtful note. Blessings to you, my friend. xoxoJulia

  12. saymber

    Reblogged this on saymberblondi and commented:
    Reblogging for our friend Julia who shares here her quest for internal healing about the loss of her infant son.

  13. I send you love from one mother to another 🙂

    • Your words are the most precious gift today…..Everytime I hear a small child say, “Mom”, I ache a little inside. Oh, how I would cherish that title. Even after all of these years. I see my friends send their children off to high school or college….they marry…and then have grandbabies…there are graduations and holidays and birthday parties. People don’t realize that when you lose a child and aren’t blessed with another, you lose an entire lifestyle….and an entire lifetime. I wonder, however, if my bipolar would have interferred too painfully in my being a good mother. The things we contemplate, ‘eh? Thank you for the special gift of your note. Take good care. xoJulia

  14. Gina

    Julia, thank you for sharing your sorrow, pain and journey towards healing. You have moved me beyond words. xoxo

  15. Beautiful and touching. Thank you for sharing your healing journey.

    • Thank you for your very sweet comment. And for taking the time to read my blog. I’ve already gone over to yours and followed. It’s so nice to meet you. xoJulia

  16. Ah, I both cried and trembled. What a powerful grief.

    • Thank you for sharing my experience with me. It means more to me than you’ll ever know. I’ve visited your blog and am now following it. xoxoJulia

  17. I don’t know how it is to lose a child but I replaced one. My baby brother was born in January 1980 and had an accident at birth. Doctors told my parents he won’t live long. So my parents had me so that they still have a child after my brother would die. I was born in December 1980. He died in 1983 and my first memories are about him. Even though my mother had me and later on, my sister, she could never get over that loss. It is something that sticks with you no matter what. I feel with you, Julia and I am sorry you had to go through this. Parents should not see their children leaving this world. It is wound that nothing can heal. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    • Oh, Lavinia, your words brought tears to my eyes. You are so wise…..and understand so well. Thank you for sharing your very personal and touching words with me. You are a blessing and a gift. Love and blessings to you always. Thank you. xoxoJulia

  18. How precious, Julia! I can feel a bit of this, perhaps, as my twin sister died several days after we were born. I know this is not the same, but still a primal kind of loss. Stunning writing here in honor of your son! He would be so proud of you.
    Hugs,
    Kathy

    • Thank you for sharing, Kathryn. Your loss is a different kind, for sure, but no less of one . . . I can’t imagine how that must feel – to be without your twin. I’m so sorry. Thank you for taking time from your demanding day to read and drop me a note; I know how busy you are. It means a lot to me, dear friend. Thank you. xoxoJulia

  19. Julia,

    This is my first time here. I can’t imagine your grief then and I can’t imagine your grief now. But I can feel what I know, which is the love I have for my children and the fear that I will lose them. Having had friends who been down this path, and hearing their stories, I have always felt like a hand has clutched my heart saying, “Please God, never that.” I admire the bravery that it took to get you to have the brick created. Thank you for sharing it – I hope that every day brings a new strength in healing.

    Kiran

    • Kiran, thank you so so much. This will sound corny, but your words are some of the medicine that helps an aching heart. I thank you for taking the time to share some comfort with me…someone you don’t even know. You have a generous heart. I know you cherish your children. Your words are so full of love and emotion for them. You are a very lucky woman and you know it….and I love that you treasure them so. Pull them close and maybe, sometime, when you’re tucking them in, you could kiss them on the forehead and say, “This one’s from Michael’s mom.” Thank you. I will pray for the good health and safety of your family. Merry Christmas, my new wonderful friend. xoxoJulia

  20. What a lovely post, Julia. I’ve not heard of the Christmas Box Angels, but it certainly sounds like a gift was given you. Thanks for sharing your story, and spreading the word.

    • Thank you, Patti. It has been a deeply emotional and healing experience. Thanks so much for reading and leaving me this note, from you…a friend. Love to you, girl! xoxoJulia

  21. Reblogged this on A New Day Dawns and commented:
    Here is a timely post from Julia, I was not familiar with “The Christmas Box” or “The Christmas Box Angel Statue.” The nearest to me is in Richmond, 90 miles away. Maybe there’s one near you?

  22. Dear Julia,
    This is such a powerful story, so beautiuflly told. I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing it. I am sending it to my sister, who held her little boy in her arms for only minutes before she lost him. She went on to have healthy children, but she still grieves that loss.

    • Thank you for your kind words, Naomi. And an especially big hug to you and your sister. Thank you for passing this along to her. I hope it helps in some small way. I understand about those precious moments of holding……..gosh, what I would give for just a few more of those moments. I’m so sorry for her loss and yours too. She’s lucky to have you….you understand her pain. Take care and blessings to you and those you love. xoJulia

  23. Your pain is raw and real, Julia. You will never forget, but may you now be at peace with your loss.
    Blessings ~ Maxi

    • Thank you, Maxi. So much. I just joined your blog and am looking forward to reading more of your stuff. Nice writing. Thank you for stopping by and leaving your kind note. xoJulia

  24. No parent should have to suffer that a child predeceases them. And I esp think of all the parents that have lost a child as a soldier in war but the way of passing is not much of a matter as is the event. A beautiful post. Drive-by shootings are very common in Miami, Florida and often do not even make the evening news or newspaper. My children and grandchildren have survived several without being hit but my daughter’s boyfriend did get shot 3 months ago. He has made recovery. I am very thankful and your moving post reminds me to remain so. Deepest regards…

    • Oh Carl, your words reach me down deep. No child should have to worry on such a level about their safety….drive bys…..omg. Thankfully, your daughter’s friend has survived and is recovering. Thank you so much for reading my piece and leaving such a wonderful note. I love to hear from you. Let’s keep in touch. Deepest regards to you, my dear new friend. xoJulia

  25. Wow, what incredible strength you had to be able to give your baby to science to help and find the reasons behind unfortunate and heart wrenching deaths. You have suffered so and am glad to see that you can now be set free from the clenches within that you carried deep inside. I am sure that now when you think of your son, you know that that little angel is right on your shoulder watching you day in and day out. He will always be with you Julia, and may that in itself carry you through each and every day.xoxoxo my friend!!!

    • Thank you so much, Susan. Your words are tender and sweet and a comfort. I carry him with me always….he’s my light of perspective and all the inner strength I have. You’re such a special one….with all that you struggle with yourself, to think of me and leave such endearing words. Love and blessings to you always! xoJulia

  26. Caddo Veil

    I’m so sorry for your loss. This is a beautiful post, I cried through it. God bless you–love, Caddo

    • Caddo, thank you so much. Your tears….although I am sorry for them….warm my heart. Thank you. Love and Blessings to you! xoJulia

  27. thank you for sharing your story…I am sorry for your loss!
    Elaine ~ mommy of an angel

    • Hi dear, Elaine. I’m so sorry for your loss, my friend. Thank you for reading and leaving your words to share with me. My heart to yours . . . xoJulia

  28. Julia, What a beautiful post. I am inspired by the courage and honesty in your posts – especially this one. It isn’t an easy thing to share such painful feelings – at least for me it isn’t. I’m so very sorry for the pain of loss you’ve felt. Sorry that your son had to leave you way too soon. Your words will be a healing balm to many.

    Also, wanted to tell you that I inadvertently deleted your last comment on my blog!! So sorry! Delete and Publish buttons were too small on my phone! Thank you for your sweet and encouraging comments. They always mean so much.

    xo
    Lisa

    • Thank you, Lisa. Your words are comforting and very sweet. Dont worry about deleting my comments, because with your writing – I’m sure I’ll be leaving more of them. Take good care, my new friend. xoJulia

  29. Your son is just a little younger than my daughter. Unfortunately, that was how infant deaths was handled 30 years ago – it was a suck it up and move on mentality. There was no grieving nor was the loss even recognzed. After all, you could have another baby couldn’t you?

    I think it’s handled much better now and the grief is recognized. I’ve not seen the Christmas Box Angel Statutes, but when I lived in Sioux City, Iowa, the cemetery there had a section for infants and very young children. I walked there regularly and would often look at the headstones and sympathize the loss of such a little one. I don’t remember other cemeteries having sections like that and thought it was good closure for parents, giving them someplace to visit and acknowledge their little one.

    Thanks for visiting my blog and subscribing. Your blog is the only other one that I’ve seen using the same theme that I use! How cool is that!

    Nancy

    • Thanks, Nancy, for your kind comments and for sharing your story and memories with me. I’ve visited your site and am now a follower. Funny about us using the same thing, ‘eh? Great minds, I guess. lol Did you check the link at the end of my piece? Maybe there’s a statue near you. Take care, my new friend. xoJulia

  30. I can’t imagine losing a child. My heart goes out to you. I am so pleased for you that after so many years, you’ve found a measure of healing.

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