I met Ron and Pam in Tamuning during the catechesis that we were giving in the parish, six/seven years ago. A fresh young couple. After walking in their Neocatechumenal community for a few months, they relocated and went to live in Virginia. In their first years of marriage, they lost two babies. The first one died 6 months during the pregnancy and the second died a day after she was born. Then… another baby, healthy and full of life. Difficult times are perhaps over, they thought. But God is … God!
Late last year Pam was pregnant again. When she went for her ultrasound, the doctor found a serious anomaly in the baby. The baby did not develop any skull. The suggestion of the entire medical field was simple: “the baby is not compatible with life; has 0% chance of survival; does not deserve to live any longer, and therefore should be terminated/aborted.”
Friends and relatives were afraid and concerned – it will be too much for them to go through all this pain all over again, they argued. They hinted that the most sensible thing to do is to end the pain as soon as possible. Others held them close to their hearts and promised prayers.
The answer of Ron and Pam was faith. Think also of the baby, she wrote in a letter she emailed to many of her friends and relatives. “This baby has been attached to me ever since she was conceived. We are attached together from the very beginning. Taking her away from me by intentionally aborting her, sadly and deeply breaks my heart. I just don’t want anybody of us to make that decision. I want God to be the arbitrator of that and let Him be the Decision-Maker for my baby’s life….even for our lives. So please I beg you to allow me to experience this pregnancy to the fullest, and whenever it’s time for her to go, then so be it. We know she’ll go straight to her place in Heaven and I’ll be happy to know that we’ll have three loving angels guiding us.” Isn’t this what life is all about, after all? Going to heaven?
The pregnancy continued. Fear, joy, apprehension, worries, delight at the first kicks… The couple made specific, very meticulous plans and had special clothes made for this special baby. Every detail is precious when you have so little time to cherish a treasure.
Then on Monday, May 1st feast of Saint Joseph, Angeli Hope Marie was born. She was a tiny little thing, 5lbs, 9oz. But so wonderful. They held her close to them. They cried. They kissed her profusely. They embraced her tenderly. They dressed her. They even took her home….
Angeli Hope Marie said good bye to this earth just over a hundred hours later. She was born in the morning of Monday and died in the evening of Friday. Hundred and eight hours of selflessness and meekness. “She passed through our lives quickly and quietly leaving us with a lifetime of memories and love. We would request for your prayers at this time as we learn to live with the loss of our precious child.”
What is precious about all this? Perhaps the words a priest uttered in a similar funeral can shed light. “I bet you are all wondering why this happened. Why was this life taken away before it began, seemingly meaningless? We never know what the big plan is. Many of you with successful children will brag, my son is a lawyer, my son is a doctor, my son is a professional athlete. Well John and Amy (the parents) can brag that their son is a saint! God’s plan for Jesse (the son) is so great that he could not allow him to be corrupted by one breath on earth. Jesse died without sin. That by definition makes him a saint and God has plans for saints…”
Angeli Hope Marie lived briefly on earth. She will now live eternally in heaven. A mother who went through a similar pregnancy, wrote, “Lucas Adams is the one child I will never have to worry about. His life was wonderful. All he ever knew was love. What a great life! Who could ask for anything more? He has made a difference in all our lives. I am closer to God than I have ever been and rely on Him for everything. My kids have learned a great lesson in love and faith. Our parish also has been affected in a positive way. I do not live my life thinking “What if”. I am proud of what we did but know that I did not do it. God did it. It was His strength and courage that brought us all through. I now have my own personal angel in heaven who I will meet when I get there. I can’t wait!”
In a website dedicated to the infants with anencephaly, there is a significant quote of Vaclav Havel, the first President of the Czech Republic, a famed writer and dramatist. It says “Hope is not the expectation that things will turn out well, but the conviction that something is worth working for, however it turns out.”
Thank you Ron. Thank you Pam. Thank you Angeli Hope Marie. For giving us hope.
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.