We had our first real taste of fall weather this morning. As I sat snuggling my 9-month-old, savoring the warmth of her little body while the wind whipped outside and the furnace hummed inside, I felt grateful. Grateful for this little life, saved by modern medicine from the effects of a severe heart defect. She is our rainbow baby–our first living baby after the loss of miscarriage. There is nothing like losing a child to make you more fully appreciate the gift of another.
Our entire family felt the loss of that miscarriage deeply. My other children instantly understood that the tiniest baby in the womb is a life to be treasured. We all still talk about Julian as a valued member of our family, waiting and praying for us in heaven.
And just as we’ve learned the value of life from its very beginnings, so too, have we learned the value of life wrapped in the innocence and humility of disability. I’ve witnessed my children help my handicapped sister tie her shoes, climb a flight of stairs, and walk up to receive communion. My sister was my mother’s first child. When she became pregnant with me, her doctor advised her to have extensive testing done. He said that if any results of those tests looked at all questionable, she should consider having an abortion.
Thankfully, my mother chose life from the moment she conceived me. No testing, no questioning, just life. She chose life, and now my sister has a tiny army of spiritual warriors in my six children–a whole army to educate with her priceless lessons in patience, sacrifice, and love.
Now, my children are getting older–and so are my parents. And even though there are times when my children would rather be playing video games or hanging out with their friends instead of visiting with grandma and grandpa, they are also learning to appreciate the wisdom and unconditional love that comes with age. They are learning to appreciate the gifts that only a well-seasoned life can offer.
This week, our family discussed the value of life. We talked about the evils of abortion and euthanasia and the importance of praying for an end to these practices. But most of all, we simply built upon the culture of life that we’ve built into our family. We’re hoping to attend a Mass with our bishop outside of a local abortion clinic later this month. My daughter recently toured a pregnancy crisis center with her Little Flowers Girls’ Club group.
I’ve been amazed at how simple it is to present these pro-life values to my children. It makes sense to them. Trying to explain to an innocent child what abortion is starkly reveals its horrors. My children have seen for themselves that the beauty of life isn’t in its perfection, or ease, or convenience. They’ve seen firsthand how some of the heaviest crosses in life are the most beautiful, and how openness to life is a gift worth sharing.
Copyright 2017 Charisse Tierney
Art in photo by Jean Keaton
For more lessons in the Catholic faith, see Feeding Your Family’s Soul: Dinner Table Spirituality by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle.