Saturday, January 21, 2012

Rejoicing in Life

We were at dinner with friends last night and somewhere near the middle of the three plus hours, we came around to the topic of death. All four of us at the table are, what I would consider, quite strong in our Catholic faith, so the discussion was definitely more uplifting than dour. In fact, when finding out that we had already purchased our cemetery plots and a headstone, the wife of the other couple announced, "I am jealous!" I had to laugh out loud while, at the same time, rejoice that we can discuss these types of things with others who feel as we do. (I later found out that the people at the next table may not have had the same opinion of the topic. Oops.)

The discussion went on to life in the world today and the never-ending quest of people to eat specific things or undergo plastic surgery or drive a fast car. I wondered if this was to help themselves enjoy life more and to feel better about themselves or, ultimately, postpone that which seems most difficult to face about our mortal being. Every person has a different answer, I would imagine. Someone mentioned the reading in Exodus about the Israelites traveling with Moses who were bitten by a snake and how, by looking upon the snake he had fashioned, they would be healed. So we, too, must look upon the thing that frightens us most, our ultimate death, to be "healed".

This week will be one in which I am very in tune with life and so I intend to celebrate! Sunday is the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. It's amazing that, for almost as long as I've been alive, it has been legal to take life, all under the banner of "choice".

Since becoming a mother, the "pro-choice" arguments have become more and more difficult for me to grasp. The first time I felt a baby kick inside me, there was no question that this was a life, waiting to come forth. Seeing a tiny heart beating on an ultrasound...what is that if not life? I hear all the arguments and, while I try to be compassionate and I pray for hearts to turn, I have yet to become convinced that killing a baby is acceptable. Ever. Yes, I am first in line to take away that "right" from women. With rights come responsibility and the responsibility comes before the baby is created.

Personally, I come from the "I knew you before I formed you" school of thought. My dearly beloved and I have had discussions long into the night, he has more difficulty with God placing babies into the arms of abusers, murderers, or otherwise less-than optimal circumstances. I too struggle with choices people make but I don't think any baby is a "mistake". I truly believe that God selects each of us at the proper time.

This year, Roe v. Wade is especially poignant to me. At 43, my chance of a baby with Down Syndrome is "elevated". After my first blood test and ultrasound, the risk was even greater. I found it slightly ironic that I happened to be at a 40 Days for Life vigil and got the news upon my return home. Yes, I cried. I have often thought that God has more belief in my abilities than do I. After settling a bit, I realized this was the big "put up or shut up" from God. Would I walk the walk now that it was me? Would I stand for life even if mine was about to be forever altered?

Immediately I looked into the issues we would face with a Downs baby. I spoke to friends with Downs children. I fought off several attempts by my OB to have amino. "Just so you know" he said. "Know what" I said. I felt, even that early, that I was as prepared as I wanted to be about what we faced. Truly, no one mentioned colic before I had Dominic. It was one of the most difficult times of my life but we adjusted and found ways to cope. Yes, colic passes and DS does not but there are numerous challenges and rewards with each child. The question is on what you choose to dwell.

In all the time that has passed I can honestly say the thought of abortion has never crossed my mind. Many, many days I have prayed that I would not be blessed with a special needs baby. I don't think my patience and temperament is cut out for that. Yet, isn't that what it's about? We receive challenges that will ultimately improve us and make us stronger, more tuned-in to what is important. Life is a gift. A rewarding, challenging, fleeting gift. So is praying for grace and receiving it at just the right time.

So, on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I believe I will be saying a prayer that other mothers in my situation may choose to look at the possibilities of their unborn child as a gift rather than a burden. I will pray that we can all be more like Our Blessed Mother, who knew how to trust and accept without knowing every last detail. Let us say "yes" and rejoice in life.


  1. Amen.
    He wants us to come home to Him and He knows the path. Keep trusting as you walk the path, even with our imperfect vision.

  2. Mike and I talked about the issue of death at our Teams meeting last night, too. I feel blessed to have the perspective we do as Catholics. To hope in faith for something that is an utterly beyond our grasp.

    Thank you for sharing your personal experience with/perspective on life.