Saturday, July 9, 2016


It was a sizzling July morning when my father phoned to tell me the most incredible news. My mother had just delivered a baby girl. I had a sister!
“How can that be?” I said. “If Mother were pregnant, she would have told me.”
“I’m sorry, honey,” said my dad. “Nobody knew. With the oversized clothes she wore, she fooled everyone.”
“But why?”
“She wasn’t supposed to have any more children after you and we knew she most likely wouldn’t carry it to full term. Didn’t want to get everyone excited until it was a sure thing. Sure enough, the baby was more than 10 weeks premature.”
Weighing in at a pound and a half, little Ann Marie lived only nine hours.
When the doctor broke the news to Mother, she cried pitifully for a long while and then clammed up. She turned her face to the wall and wouldn’t talk to anyone.
Any responsibility she might have felt for Ann Marie’s last rites were shifted to Dad as she lay in the hospital trying to appear grief-stricken for two more days. Dad went to a nearby funeral home and made arrangements. The infant’s tiny body was placed in the smallest casket I’d ever seen.
For a considerable amount of money, the funeral home provided a car and two men in black suits to accompany Dad and me and Uncle Ed, Dad’s brother, to the family cemetery, about thirty miles south of our home.
When we got there, the small grave had already been dug and the men who had dug it waited in their truck to close it after we left. It was a short, lackluster service, but I suppose there’s not much to say about one whose whole life lasted only nine hours.
The two men from the funeral home carried the small casket from the car to the open grave and placed it over the opening. We gathered ‘round with bowed heads. Suddenly, the sky opened up and unleashed a torrential downpour. The men from the funeral home scrambled to hold big black umbrellas over us in a futile attempt to protect us from the driving rain. Gray clouds hung low overhead and there was no hint that sunrays might find their way around or through them any time soon.
Competing with deafening thunder, Dad raised his voice significantly and said a few words. I’ll never forget them:
“Dear Loving God, giver of all good gifts – thank you for letting us have this little one for a few hours. Though the time was short, our hearts swelled with love as we prayed for her survival. Sometimes we don’t understand why You do things, but we trust You and accept that You know best for all concerned.
So... for as much as it has pleased our Almighty God to take out of this world the soul of our beloved child, Ann Marie Harrison, we therefore commit her body to the ground, earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. May she always feel our love and know that we will one day join her in Heaven.
In Your beloved son’s name...

(This is an excerpt from my next book, All About Jenny.)


Linda said...

Peggy, this is a beautifully written piece of prose. I can't wait to read the book!

Ben J. Rourke said...

Lovely descriptive piece! Good work, Peggy.

Anna Thompson said...

I cried when I read this. Your writing is so emotional. One would have to be dead not to feel something while reading your words. Wonderful!

Pam Childers said...

Simply beautiful!