I remember vividly in great detail the day my sweet little 3 year-old Mikey was diagnosed with a rare and fatal brain tumor. I was 7 months pregnant with our 7th child and taking Mikey, 18 month-old Andrew, and my giant belly to the pediatrician to check out why his eye was strangely turning in. We had noticed it more and more frequently in the previous few weeks and were growing increasingly alarmed. The events that unfolded that day happened at both lightning speed and agonizing slowness all at once. From pediatrician, to eye specialist, to ER, we faced scan after scan, and test after test. Bill came to the hospital after work, so I could go home and take care of the kids, and the waiting felt endless as I tried to keep busy. I got the kids to bed at 8:00 and paced. At 9:00, I paced some more. At 10:00, I looked at the clock for the thousandth time and paced some more again. Finally, the phone rang at 10:30 and, gently, Bill delivered the news that there was a mass growing squarely in the middle of Mikey’s brain stem. Initial consults by everyone at the hospital that night were grim. My response in that moment was to say, please bring my baby back home as quickly as he possibly could. Finally, blessedly, I heard the garage door open and waddled down the stairs as fast as I could. I reached the bottom and looked down the long hallway just as the door was opening and my little boy burst in. I took a few steps toward him before lowering myself to the ground to brace for impact. And then the moment I had been waiting for all day, the effect of which lives in my soul still – his little body was in my arms giving and receiving so much love that there aren’t words to describe it.
There were a lot of things that were true that night: disease, heartache, pain, suffering, and death on the horizon, but the greatest truth was that breathtaking exchange of pure love. Nothing could touch that.
I may not have understood it then, but anytime we ever get to partake in such an exchange of love, it is a reflection of the incredible love our Father in heaven has for each of us. It is always the greatest truth.
Mikey died 9 months later and so began my own path to growing in deep relationship with God the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and our Blessed Mother. I so often think of that moment of embrace, mother and child, and I live it still, as the child in the embrace of my Father.
Several years after that fateful day, we once again received a calI that will live in stark detail for all of my days. Afterwards, I remember standing by the ER bedside of our oldest daughter Anna in the wee hours of the morning after the crash, my beautiful first-born baby still and lifeless. I often think of it as my moment on the precipice; it was my moment of greatest choosing. Before me lay the reality of crushing devastation and incomprehensible pain. I could see no human way out of all that. But the divine voice was my greatest reality in that moment. It was a voice speaking truth, “I put before you life and death, choose life.” It was the person of Jesus saying, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world.” It was the Spirit whispering in my soul, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” It was my Blessed Mother helping me weep, ‘into your hands, Lord, I commend her spirit.’
God who is Love itself was my GREATEST truth in those moments. He was my first and only choice.
It’s a challenge sometimes in the day- to-day struggles, to look past the difficult realities that often seem to attack from every side, in order to bring into focus something greater. But it is precisely in these moments, we should remember who’s waiting at the end of that hall, on His knees, arms outstretched and waiting.
HE is the greatest truth.
O, so beautiful! Such faith! Thank you!
Thank you again for the hope and heart you give to so many parents who are in unspeakable pain.
Such a great truth to ponder on this Good Shepherd Sunday. For all of us mothers and fathers who have lost a child, He is there as THE strong and tender one carrying us in the crook of His arm, too.
Such faith, so beautifully written 💜