Today it has been seven months since Molly was born and went to Heaven. As in previous months on the 17th, I am taking time today to honor the memory of our daughter and Sean’s baby sister through sharing with you about special things that help our family to continue to remember and feel connected to our baby girl. This month I am going to tell you about the beautiful labor of love that is the cross that my Uncle Greg, my dad’s older brother, handcrafted for us in honor and memory of Molly.
Though it may look like wood, Molly’s cross (pictured here) is made out of the skeletal remains of a saguaro cactus. It hangs on the wall in the entry way of our home. Uncle Greg carves these awesome crosses for his dear family and friends to mark special occasions in our lives. He made one for Bob and I as our wedding gift when we married in September 2000. Uncle Greg made one as a birthday gift for our son Sean when he was born in October 2003. Our wedding cross hangs in our dining room and Sean’s cross hangs in his bedroom over his dresser. Uncle Greg also sells these crosses in two stores called Oak Creek that he and my Aunt Mary own in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona, as well as through their website.
With each cross that Uncle Greg has made for our family, he has included a special card that included a brief explanation of what a saguaro cactus is and a personal message for the person/people he has carved it for. This is the note that Uncle Greg sent along with Molly’s cross:
Kathy, Bob, Sean and Molly
I fashioned this cross from the rib of the skeletal structure of a saguaro. It has been planned, sanded and carved following the natural lines of the cactus. This wood talked to me indicating depth and angles of carving and sanding. It never ceases to amaze me that the end product has its unique character. On this occasion I was able to include the skeleton from a small arm of a saguaro. The arm is reaching for the heavens where Molly has gone to await the rest of us.
As I worked on your cross I said many prayers for the Benson family; prayers for relief from your grief, prayers for your continued growth in your faith, and prayers of thanksgiving that Molly was able to come into all of our lives. As you gaze on it, let it be a testimony to the Jesus whose death raised the cross from a symbol of horrible death to a manifestation of salvation for all of us. I would wish you as much peace for the Benson family with this cross as I have experienced producing it.
Signed: Uncle Greg
Dated: 4/16/08 (the day before Molly was born and went to Heaven)
I love, especially as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday this year, that Uncle Greg mentioned in his note that he has said many prayers of thanksgiving that Molly was able to come into all of our lives. I agree and have also said many such prayers over the past year.
I like that all who enter our home see Molly’s cross, whether or not they know about or remember its significance. In some ways I feel like Molly’s cross is her way of helping us to welcome guests to our house. To remind all who visit what is most important in life, including trying to live each day to its fullest and truly appreciating and being thankful for our loved ones for however long we are blessed to have them in our lives (whether its years, months, days or even minutes).
I like that Molly’s cross is in a location that I pass many times throughout each day and it causes me to think of our baby girl and smile. It reminds me that we believe she is at peace and that her once broken heart is healed now in Heaven and I find comfort in that.
As more and more time passes since Molly was with us here on earth, I can say that most days the pain seems to be softening. I have heard that would happen and appreciate that in many ways Bob, Sean and my life has returned to “normal.” We have gotten back into routines that work for us including work, school, exercise, activities and social events. These ways of spending time keep us busy and allow us not to dwell too much or too long on missing our daughter and sister. Not that I (and we) don’t still feel pain or miss our baby girl and I do have bad days now and then. I am just finding that more often than not when I think about Molly that I am able to smile and be grateful for her presence in our life, both while she was with us here on earth and now watching over us from Heaven. I still feel sad that Molly wasn’t healthy enough to survive and come home with us after she was born. However the grief doesn’t overwhelm me as much as it did in those early days and months after we lost her.
It is bittersweet for me to reflect on this time in our life last year. I was eight weeks pregnant, to the day, and at that point in our pregnancy with Molly everything seemed to be going well. We hadn’t told Sean that we were expecting, however we were cautiously optimistic. At eight weeks gestation we had made it further than we had in our previous three pregnancies (two of which ended with miscarriages and the most recent was an interstitial ectopic). We had early ultrasounds in which Molly seemed to be growing right on track and her heart appeared to be beating strong. My morning sickness (more like all day sickness) was in full swing and I was expanding into my transitional (pre-maternity) clothes. Though we knew something could go wrong, Bob and I were starting to really believe that this time we might get to bring our baby home. We still waited another four weeks to share our news with Sean and it was only a few days after we told our son that he was finally going to be a big brother that we got our first signals that something might be wrong with our precious baby.
As we approach this Thanksgiving holiday, we may not have the same kind of hope in our hearts that we did this time last year, believing that this year we might have two living children in our home to be thankful for, as we gather round the table to celebrate our blessings with our family. However, we do realize that there is “always, always, always something to be thankful for.” I recently found that quote on a beautiful ceramic heart, with a cross carved inside it, at a Hallmark store and bought it for our home as a reminder that no matter what trials we face in life, we have more blessings than challenges if we take the time to name, be grateful for and focus on them. Bob, Sean and I continue to heal as we mark this seven month milestone since we held Molly in our arms. We miss our baby girl and we are thankful for having her in our life, in our family, this past year. As we have said before, Molly is and will always be in our hearts. We are humbled that Molly touched and lives on in so many of your hearts too.
Thank you for reading, for thinking about Molly and our family today and for your continued support, kind words and prayers. Bob, Sean, our angel Molly and I are thankful to have you, such caring and compassionate friends and family, in our lives. May God bless you and your loved ones today and always.