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Ash Wednesday is always a really hard day for me. It’s difficult for me to sit in the Mass that is the exact same every year and hear the same readings and receive ashes knowing that three years ago, I labored through my last few hours with Eli. I had no idea what was coming.

The delivery was traumatic. More so because I thought the worst of it was over days before. Because I had no idea I would even need to deliver the baby. No one tells you that when you have a spontaneous abortion that you will essentially have a first trimester unassisted home birth. No one tells you what to expect, what the contractions feel like, what to do when the baby is born, what to do with him or her. No one tells you that it can take days to deliver the baby.

Every year, I sit through this Mass and the memories are still so fresh. One wash of tears, and I’m back in the fourth pew trying to hold on through the contractions and hide my distress from everyone around me. I’m back in our frigid Korean apartment holding the tiniest of babies.

As I hear the words, “Remember, you are dust and to dust you shall return,” I can’t help but wonder,

“Who would Eli have been?”