At the Hour of Our Death, Amen

If you say the Rosary faithfully unto death, I do assure you that, in spite of the gravity of your sins, ‘you will receive a never-fading crown of glory’ (1 St. Peter 5:4).” Saint Louis de Montfort

I am blessed to be the mother of five sons ages 12-24. However, my journey to motherhood has not been an easy one. I have lost seven babies through miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy. When my third son was 10 months old, we were overjoyed to be pregnant again; that is, until it became apparent that the baby was in my fallopian tube once again. I nearly died from complications of this ectopic pregnancy.

Below is an excerpt from my first novel, Emily’s Hope, and is based on the true story of my near-death experience, written in the third person. Fortunately, I survived and later gave birth to two more sons.

The following illustrates the powerful intercession of Our Lady, especially when death is whispering in one’s ear:

The pain in her abdomen became more excruciating with every passing moment. She sat on the sofa and dialed the number of the high school. It seemed like an eternity for the line to connect. One, two rings. Please, someone pick up, she silently begged. Hearing the secretary’s voice, Emily could barely speak, but she uttered enough to make it clear that she needed her husband. She dropped the phone and tried to take a deep breath. Feeling an overwhelming need to vomit, she rushed to the bathroom just in time to spill the contents of her stomach. She gripped the cold, hard toilet, as if in some way, it would make her pain bearable. Disoriented, she thought of her baby and quickly glanced at his smiling, inquisitive face, oblivious to his mother’s pain.

I’ve got to stay conscious for my baby, she repeated over and over again in her mind. She moved back to the floor next to the sofa, trying to sit upright with her young child next to her, while drifting in and out of consciousness. Keeping a death grip on him, she woke up as the paramedics were prying her hands off her son and placing her on a stretcher. It all seemed like a dream. She overheard the paramedics talking about what a “little thing” she was.

Too weak to make a sound, she wondered where her young son was. She caught a glimpse of her husband holding him at the back doors of the ambulance.

His right arm cradled their son’s little body, while his left hand clasped his small head to his chest as if to shield and protect him from the turmoil that surrounded them both. But her husband’s face. . .his face was so broken and distraught that Emily felt the anguish of a wife and mother abandoning her family. Tears welled up in her eyes and for a moment, Emily forgot her pain.

Then his eyes caught hers and he realized that she was watching him. Everything changed. His chin lifted as if for courage and penetrated her being with a look of tenderness, of confidence and reassurance. Whatever happens, I will be strong for you and for the sons we both love and for God, who has asked so much of you. He seemed to say all of this with his eyes, all of this and more. As his love reached out to her through the shouts of the paramedics and their frantic procedures, the beeping of machines and the overwhelming wail of the siren, its light already flashing, her terror began to fade and her heart surged within her. Now reassured, she allowed herself to fall back to sleep.

Emily’s eyes opened again this time as the paramedics were inserting an intravenous needle in her arm. Although it felt like they were stabbing her with an ice pick, all she could manage was a wince and a quiet moan. It seemed as if every ounce of energy had been sucked from her being. This is what it feels like to die.

Then she imagined her little boys’ faces, and suddenly the possibility of dying weighed heavy on her heart. Please, God, I can’t die, she silently prayed. I don’t want my little boys growing up without a mother. All at once, a feeling of warmth surrounded her, then she felt at peace. There was no bitterness, only acceptance, a calm that was huge enough to quiet an ocean. She silently recited a Hail Mary. . . .now and at the hour of our death. Amen. Those last words took on powerful meaning with the possibility that this could be her hour. She knew that whatever happened would be God’s will, and she would submit to that, whatever it was.

Drifting into unconsciousness, the last thing she heard was “We’re losing her…”

Emily’s Hope is available in print form and on Amazon Kindle. Leave a comment below before Friday, October 28th, to be entered to win a free Kindle copy of Emily’s Hope.

Copyright 2005 Ellen Gable Hrkach

The Joy of Mothering Musical Sons

When some people find out that I am the mother of five sons, they often tell me that they feel sorry for me (although I can’t imagine why). While I have found that boys are rambunctious and “busy” as toddlers, as pre-teens and teens, they have been a true joy.

Although I would have loved to have a daughter (and I’m certain I have at least a few up in heaven…see previous post Seven Little Souls in Heaven), I have thoroughly enjoyed my role as mother of all boys and I can’t imagine anything different.

Rewind 33 years ago…I first came up to Canada in 1978 to meet my pen-pal. She later invited me to a “rock band jam session” in which her brother was a member. I didn’t like rock music, but I wanted to be polite so I said yes. At the jam session, I noticed one curly-haired boy crouching down with his back toward me and playing the same three or four notes on his guitar. When he turned around, and I finally got a look at his face, he took my breath away.

We soon began a long distance relationship, married in 1982 and now have five sons (all musically talented like their Dad).

This short clip below was videotaped this past summer at the local park. Although our oldest son is not in the video, this clip shows my husband and sons’ unique musical talents (with the help of family friend, Jamie Bentz).

And at a moment like this, watching the fun they are having, I am very, very happy and proud to be the mother of five sons!

Be An Amazing Catechist: Sacramental Preparation Book Review

Lisa Mladinich has done it again! Simple, easy to understand and beautifully illustrated, Be An Amazing Catechist: Sacramental Preparation is perfect for parish catechists, as well as religion teachers and homeschooling parents. This book is not just for beginning catechists. It is for anyone who wishes to share the beauty of the sacraments which are so essential to our Catholic Faith.

This book’s press release says: “Both booklets are the perfect energizing and educational resources to get every catechist excited about sharing the Faith.” Lisa’s enthusiasm for her Faith shines through brightly in the pages of this gem of a book. Although every chapter is packed with helpful hints, my three favorite chapters are “Holy, Holy, Holy” (on teaching reverence to children), “Be Not Afraid” (where the author talks about how children and adults need help to overcome any fear of the confessional), and “Take and Eat” (on the Eucharist).

Again, there are appropriate quotes from Scripture, the Catechism and other documents as well as links to helpful resources.

I give “Be an Amazing Catechist: Sacramental Preparation” my highest recommendation and I encourage all catechists not only to read it but to buy copies in bulk!

Click here to order “Be An Amazing Catechist: Sacramental Preparation.”

Click here to order it in Spanish.

Click here to order Lisa’s first book, Be An Amazing Catechist: Inspire the Faith of Children.

Copyright 2011 Ellen Gable Hrkach

Sunday Snippets – October 16

Join me at RAnn’s Place where Catholic bloggers share posts from the previous week. Please check out the other bloggers’ posts!

Here are my contributions for the week:

Working With An Editor, my post for the Catholic Writers Guild blog

Desperate Plea for Help, about our friend’s desperation when his girlfriend was enticed into a cult.

My Relatives Are My Biggest Fans (Photo)

Powerful Weapon The Holy Rosary can be a powerful weapon…

Fiction Friday – Review of Pro Luce Habere

Pregnancy and Infant Loss

Photo copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach

Pregnancy and Infant Loss

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day so my husband and I are remembering in a special way the seven little ones who are waiting for us in heaven.

Here are a few of my reflections on pregnancy loss:

Among Women Podcast Episode 89 (Pat Gohn interviewed me about miscarriage and pregnancy loss)

Ecce Ancilla Domini, an article on openness to life.

Seven Little Souls in Heaven, an updated version of my first published article in 1995, “Five Little Souls In Heaven.”

Difficult Anniversaries/Responsible Parenthood

Photo copyright Josh Hrkach