The other day, I went to Fiat with our moms for my very last Maggie’s Place house outing. It was the Prayer Angels event and moms from all of the homes were present. It was a great evening where everyone was able to sit down to a meal and fellowship together. I found myself sitting next to Roseann, a mom from one of the other homes, whom I had met a few times before. Roseann is generally a more reserved person whom I have always wanted to get to know better. While talking and laughing at dinner, she was joking about how she will only miss me because that will be one less person she can practice her phlebotomy skills on. I teased her and said something like, “Oh thanks Roseann!” Out of nowhere, I noticed Roseann’s arm move from the table and make its way around my back embracing me in a side hug as she said, “Oh you know I am just joking with you! Of course I will miss you.” I had not noticed before that the little side hug she gave me was something I had been in need of for a while. It was a gesture full of love, warmth, and care. I didn’t want her arm to leave my back.
Similar to this story, Maggie’s Place has touched me in many other ways during my past two years here, especially in many unexpected ways. However unexpected, these moments of grace were just what I needed to make it through. I remember taking one mom to a fun contact meeting in a really rough part of Phoenix. She had been craving this one Chinese food stand in South Phoenix for the longest time, so I wanted to take her. We laughed the whole time as I ordered our food with stiffness in my stance, as I was just a tad concerned in our environment. I will never forget the hug I received from that mom as I stood in the visitor’s center of the NICU in Banner University Medical Center with a bag of that same Chinese food as we discussed the health of her daughter who had been born at 27 weeks premature. I will forever cherish when another mom had a serious confession to make to me. She told me in all honesty, completely vulnerable, just waiting for my response. She hugged me so tightly afterwards that I couldn’t breathe for a good 10 seconds. When I see the babies that I lived with last year, running around like crazy 1 ½ year old boys do, coming up to me asking to be held, it’s incredible.
When I talk about Roseann’s story and every other similar to hers, I am reminded of how much God truly does love Maggie’s Place. How Roseann hugged me – that warmth and not wanting her to leave me – that is exactly how I imagine the hug of Christ to feel. Glimpses of the Divine touching earth can be seen at Maggie’s Place so clearly. Christ touches Maggie’s Place through vessels like Roseann and it changes everything. God gifts Maggie’s Place with moments of joy, similar to that of the resurrection – certainly, but He also gives us glimpses of the passion and death of His son as well. When our moms believe the lie that they don’t deserve love or that they have failed in such a way that is unforgivable, I am reminded of the pain and suffering that occurs before a resurrection can take place. I once had the responsibility of placing a leaf on the Tree of Life at The Michael House for one of our baby boys who had passed in his mother’s womb. On days such as that one, I would often go to Father David Halm, a friend of Maggie’s Place, and just cry to him asking why such pain was necessary. He would remind me that Jesus saw the worst pain as necessary to gain our salvation. Afterwards, I am blessed to witness a mother celebrate her one year of sobriety or be re-unified with her older children and am reminded that the resurrection will forever conquer death.
I have been touched with the love of God in such a special way during my time at Maggie’s Place. There are memories that have been permanently written onto my heart, that I hope to never forget, during my past two years of service.
I would like to thank my fellow MissionCorps, moms, volunteers, and babies for being those vessels of God’s love in my life, and touching me the most meaningful way.
By Clare Shear, a MissionCorps member