What a Gift It Is
January 27th, 2012

In mid-December I got a text message from my work friend Layla* asking for prayers for her brother’s family, as his pregnant wife had been diagnosed with pre-eclampsia at 32 weeks and was having to be induced.  The next day another text told me that the baby had severe health problems (entirely unrelated to the pre-eclampsia).  Layla and the rest of the family convened in her hometown where her brother and his family still live.  Shortly thereafter the baby was airlifted to a larger city with a larger hospital for more advanced treatment.  It was also there that they learned the baby’s diagnosis: Trisomy 13.

Apparently only 10% of babies with Trisomy 13 survive pregnancy and make it to birth.  Of those that make it to birth, only 10% live a single day.   The doctors told Layla’s brother Jack and his wife Meaghan early on that their little boy wouldn’t be able to overcome his conditions, and so they treasured every day they had with him, knowing that the end would come soon.  This little boy fought for his life for nine days.  He was truly amazing.

It is worth noting that December is an emotionally grueling month for my friend’s family.  Her birthday falls in December.  One of her niece’s birthdays falls in December.  And her youngest sister Catherine’s birthday is in December.  Two years ago Catherine was home for Christmas and out of the clear blue died of an undiagnosed heart condition.  She was in her mid-twenties.  They buried her on Christmas Eve.  And then again this past December tragedy struck again.  Indeed, December is filled with heartache for this family.

Jack and Meaghan have two beautiful little girls, May and Emily, who are about four and two years old, respectively.  When their brother was born they were told that he had arrived, but that he was very sick.  After he passed May asked her grandmother what had happened to him.

“Well, you know how your Aunt Catherine went to heaven and now she flies around with all the angels?”

“Yes.”

“Well, your brother went to heaven to become an angel too.”

And then May said the thing that makes this whole, miserable, heartbreaking story worth reading.  She hollered to her little sister, “Hey, Emily!  Did you hear that?  There are baby angels flying around all the time and our brother gets to be one of them!  Isn’t that wonderful?!”

What a gift it is to see the world the way a child sees it.  What a gift it is to see joy where we only saw pain.  Whether you believe in heaven and angels or not, there is something inspiring about the way these children experience loss – with a silver lining that not only softens the blow, but supersedes it altogether.  What an incredible gift it is.

*All names have been changed.

3 Responses to “What a Gift It Is”

  1. Cathy Says:

    Wow. That is a gift. I’ll never forget when my mom died, my oldest was six years old. My boys didn’t have a very close relationship with my parents because we lived so far away. His comment was, “Well, mom, everyone has to die.” At the time, I thought this was such a heartless comment (I was in pain of course!). Now I think it is the simple way in which kids view the world. Seems like life would be easier if we could all do the same.

  2. BigLittleWolf Says:

    What a story, Gale. Both heartbreaking and beautiful.

  3. Heather Says:

    So sweet, thank you for sharing this story with me!