Yesterday I was at a street fair, manning the booth for CT Right to Life. I greeted many people as they walked by, some stopped to talk, share their stories, ask why we were there. One couple approached us for a very different conversation. One that I pray I never forget –
As they came by, they thanked us for being there, and, in front of the fetal models displaying 4 different ages of human development, he gained our undivided attention. He shared with us that his granddaughter had passed away only 4 weeks earlier. Before we could convey our sympathies, he told us she died the same hour she was born. She had been diagnosed with a rare genetic condition that meant she would not live long after her birth. They were offered (and advised, sometimes strongly) to terminate the pregnancy, as the medical community, and other people they knew, couldn’t understand why they would want to continue carrying to term when the prognosis was so grim.
Instead, the grandfather told us, they were surrounded by family and friends who, in partnership with prenatal hospice, prepared themselves and their three older children for what would come. They made this inexpressibly difficult journey together because of their unwavering belief that Life, no matter how frail, how painfully temporary, is perfectly and inexorably sacred.
He handed me a letter, written by her father, his son. It was the words he spoke at his daughter’s funeral in Ohio. He gifted me with this deeply personal, profoundly poignant letter for the express purpose of sharing it with others who may be going through similar grief or potential decisions surrounding a very young life.
This letter goes beyond words: inexpressible mourning, inexpressible hope, inexpressible comfort, and the deepest commitment to Life and Faith in such a difficult time as I have seen. Before taking it home and reading it the following day, I was there with these grandparents, hearing their grief, hearing their deep admiration for their son and his wife for the choices they made under profoundly difficult circumstances. And then this father and grandfather made me cry. He told me how he’d made the tiny coffin for his granddaughter himself and, when the funeral was concluded, when the funeral director and other attendants came forward to move the coffin through the church to the vehicle parked outside, this man’s son, the grieving father of this tiny little girl, stopped them and said, “No, I want to carry her. This is the only chance I will get to walk her down the aisle.”
How else could anyone respond to a statement like that except tears? I will share more later about the letter, this tiny one’s eulogy, in a future post, but for now I ask that everyone in the reach of this post, everywhere that you are, pray for this family. May God’s comfort reach to the very depths of their souls during this time of profound loss. May their family and friends be Jesus with skin on to each member of this family wherever they may go. And may we, who hear their story of courage, honor for their daughter’s young life, and life-sustaining faith, so live and so encourage one another with these words: ALL LIFE IS PRECIOUS.