Sometimes it pays to sneak a copy of the church bulletin to read before Mass starts. If I hadn't, I wouldn't have known about the book of remembrance. It's a book in which parishioners write down the names of loved ones who have died, and it stays on the altar through November. All the people named in the book are remembered at each Mass through the month, starting with All Souls' Day (or is it All Saints' Day?) on November 1st.
Naturally I had to make sure Thomas was named in the book, as well as my Grandparents. I also made a general "Z--- and F--- family members" entry to cover off everyone who I didn't name specifically. I must avoid offending at all cost, even the dead.
Anyway, I quietly went up to the front of the church to put my names in the book after Mass. I was waiting behind a woman who had an extraordinarily long list of people (seriously, she was writing for what seemed like forever) so I had time to read the little note that was standing up beside the book.
It said something like, "Life does not end, it merely changes" and beneath it was a short list of names.
Thomas' was the very first.
It took my breath away and I'm pretty sure my mouth dropped open. I was startled to see his name, but mostly awed that he was being remembered so lovingly. Every single person who has come up to write in that book has seen his name. I know none of them know who he is - but they've seen it.
I can't remember the last time I felt so loved and welcomed by a community. It was like a quiet but huge bear hug of support.
They remembered. Without me having to say a word, they remembered my beautiful little boy.
When I finally got my turn I wrote "Our darling boy Thomas Joseph Z---", and I felt so proud. It's silly, but I felt like the Mother of a celebrity. It was wonderful. It was so amazing to feel like his Mother, and incredible to have him recognized as a person who lived and breathed - a person who existed just like everyone else in that book and on that list. A real person.
I cried all the way home of course, but good tears.
I really needed that today. And finally it feels like God was listening.