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Joe's First Anniversary

by Judy Rainey

We were very determined not to mark Joe's anniversary with mourning but with celebration - celebrating his eight months and four days here with us on earth. We had a lovely mass in a small chapel with about 75 family members and friends. We picked out readings from the Old and New Testaments that spoke to us and songs that, hopefully, reflected our faith in God and our desire to rejoice in the small, brief miracle of our son. A friend of ours asked if he could say some remarks, which were beautiful, and then my 14 year old daughter spoke and then I gave some remarks (in which all of you were mentioned!).

We had the mass then an open house back at our home the Saturday before Joe's anniversary. I was in Dallas at the conference the next week of his anniversary. I was very weepy even before I left my hotel room but made it OK through most of the day. I had held off really grieving until the memorial service that evening and almost made it through the service with minimal tears until someone came up to me at the end and asked if I was Judy Rainey. I said yes and Debbie Bowes gave me a card saying she had just recently joined this list on the Internet and knew it was my anniversary. Well, that released the dam of tears and I just sobbed for about five minutes. I am so grateful that Debbie was there, almost as though she was representing the entire list, to remind me how blessed I am to have the support of this list.

Oh, I almost forgot! I finally put a picture of Joe in the Pictures of Love section of the SIDS Network WebPages. His picture is at http://sids-network.org/raineygif.htm  

Judy Rainey

The Mass of Faith
and Thanksgiving
for
Joseph Kimmitt Rainey
March 11, 1996 to November 15, 1996

Hope is affirmed by small brief miracles
As much as by those that are great and enduring.
Give us the grace to balance Joe's death with the celebration of his life.
Let the meaning of his time among us be more of hope than of grief,
More appreciation than bitterness
And more love than of loss.

Hymn of Gathering
Here I Am, Lord

I, the Lord of sea and sky,
I have heard my people cry.
All who dwell in dark and sin
My hand will save.

I who made the stars of night,
I will make their darkness bright.
Who will bear my light to them?
Whom shall I send?

Refrain:
Here I am, Lord. Is it I Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.

I, the Lord of snow and rain,
I have borne my people's pain.
I have wept for love of them.
They turn away.

I will break their hearts of stone,
Give them hearts for love alone.
I will speak my word to them.
Whom shall I send?

Dan Schutte

First Reading: Wis: 3:1-3.9
A reading from the book of Wisdom

The souls of the just are in the hands of God,
and no torment shall touch them.
They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead;
and their passing away was thought an affliction
and their going forth from us, utter destruction.
But they are in peace.

Those who trust in him shall understand truth,
and the faithful shall abide with him in love.
Because grace and mercy are with his holy ones,
and his care is with his elect.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 145

Response: The Lord is kind and merciful.

The Lord is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The Lord is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.

The Lord is faithful in all his words
and holy in all his works.
The Lord lifts up all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.

The Lord is just in all his ways
and holy in all his works.
The Lord is near to all who call upon him,
to all who call upon him in truth.

Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Praised be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of
mercies, and the God of all consolation! He comforts us in all our
afflictions and thus enables us to comfort those who are in trouble, with
the same consolation we have received from him. As we have shared much in
the suffering of Christ, so through Christ do we share abundantly in his
consolations. If we are afflicted it is for your encouragement and
salvation, and when we are consoled it is for your consolation, so that you
may endure patiently the same sufferings we endure. Our hope for you is
firm because we know that just as you share in the sufferings, so you will
share in the consolation.

Gospel: John 14:1-6

A reading from the holy gospel according to John

Jesus said to his disciples: "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Have
faith in God and faith in me. In my Father's house there are many dwelling
places; otherwise, how could I have told you that I was going to prepare a
place for you? I am indeed going to prepare a place for you, and then I
shall come back to take you with me, that where I am you also may be. You
know the way that leads where I go."
"Lord, " said Thomas, "we do not know where you are going. How can we know
the way?" Jesus told him:

"I am the way, and the truth, and
the life;
no one comes to the Father but
through me."

Prayers of the Faithful

Response: Lord, hear our prayer.

For all who despair, that they may be exposed to hope and love, we pray to
the Lord.

For parents, that they may remember that their greatest gift is children,
we pray to the Lord.

For children, that they may endure life's hardships while remembering its
lessons of love, we pray to the Lord.

For families, that they may experience the light of love that is reason for
hope in the future, we pray to the Lord.

Presentation of the Gifts
You Are Mine

I will come to you in the silence,
I will lift you from all your fear.
You will hear my voice,
I claim you as my choice,
Be still and know I am here.

I am hope for all who are hopeless,
I am eyes for all who long to see.
In the shadows of the night,
I will bring you light,
Come and rest in me.

Refrain:
Do not be afraid, I am with you.
I have called you each by name.
Come and follow me,
I will bring you home;
I love you and you are mine.

David Haas

Remarks

Mary Eileen Rainey (below)
Judy Kimmitt Rainey (below)

Closing Hymn
Blest Are They

Blest are they, the poor in spirit,
Theirs is the kingdom of God.
Blest are they, full of sorrow,
They shall be consoled.

Refrain:
Rejoice and be glad!
Blessed are you, holy are you!
Rejoice and be glad!
Yours is the kingdom of God.

Blest are they who show mercy,
Mercy shall be theirs.
Blest are they, the pure of heart,
They shall see God!

David Haas

Remarks by Mary Rainey (age 14)

I would like to start by saying thank you to everyone for coming
today to celebrate Joe's life with us. When Joe's life ended last
November, it was really hard and I couldn't have gotten through it without
all the help and support I got from my friends, family, and people that I
hardly knew. I got so many cards and letters from people that I have never
met before but knowing that they cared was so comforting. This last year
has been really hard for all who knew Joe and especially my family, but
from all the love we managed to pull through.
Joe will always be in our hearts and I know that he is watching
over us right now. Even though it has been a year, I still love him as
such as I ever did and that will never change. He was truly a miracle baby
and the short time we had him was the happiest of my life. If I was ever
down I could always count on Joe's smiling face to cheer me up. Every time
I think of him I smile for he is not gone - he is still in the hearts of
everyone of us. He meant so much to so many that he will never be
forgotten.

Remarks by Judy Rainey

People often ask me, "How to you survive the loss of a child?" I can't
answer that question for all parents; it would be difficult for me to even
speak for Terry or Brian or Mary. But I can tell you how I have.

First, is faith. I have not turned away from God, I have turned toward
Him. None of us will ever understand why this has happened and I have come
to believe that that is the essence of faith - continuing to believe in
God, loving God, when their are no answers. I believe that the thousands
of prayers said for our family over the last year have been answered by
giving us the strength to continue on in our lives.

Second, is family. Through our loss, our family has come to cherish each
other even more and realize what a gift each life is, each day is.

Third, are friends. Before Joe's death I thought of myself as someone who
had many acquaintances but only a few friends. Now, I look around this
church and see only friends.

Fourth is the ability to ask for help.

Many of you many not know that, although at first we thought that Joe might
have died from choking on something, nothing was ever found to determine
the cause of his death. Eventually we came to view his death as a SIDS
death - a death from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. We have received
information and much support from the SIDS organizations - the SIDS
Alliance, the SIDS Network on the world wide web, and from a group of about
one hundred SIDS parents who talk daily on the internet. I am so grateful
that I have the ability to share my grief with people who have experienced
an almost identical loss.

You were invited today to join us in celebrating Joe's life. Our family
truly means that. We should not dwell on Joe's death but remember the joy
he brought to all of us. When I think of Joe, two images come to my mind -
his look of fascination and curiosity, and the way he seemed to smile with
his whole body. I honestly don't remember him crying very much. He was
one of the happiest babies I have ever seen. And his life brought so much
happiness not only to our family but to such a wide circle of friends.

Shortly after Joe died I received a letter from a friend. She told me
their family always thought that Joe belonged to our whole community.
Since most of our friends had already raised their babies to young
adulthood, Joe was everyone's new baby to raise. We all were given the
gift of again seeing the world through a young child's eyes. He was our
fountain of youth.

If you have wondered if it is ok to ask us about Joe, the answer is yes.
The following poem, written by a mother of a child who died from SIDS,
explains why:

A Love Song

The mention of my child's name
May bring tears to my eyes,
But it never fails to bring
Music to my ears.
If you are really my friend
Please, don't keep me
>From hearing the beautiful music.
It soothes my broken heart
And fills my soul with love.

Thank you all for sharing this celebration with us. I hope you will be
able to join us back at our home and the end of the mass.

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