"If it is possible, let this cup pass from me," Jesus asked the Lord before he was seized and later crucified. Just goes to show that human nature is to resist that which causes us suffering.
Yesterday was National Infant Loss Rememberance Day. I honored my son by lighting a candle for him and other babies that have died, but even as I remembered Gabriel and his legacy I wished that he was here for me to hold. Today is the feast day of St. Gerard, the patron saint of expectant mothers. I prayed to St. Gerard for Gabriel's safe delivery and asked also that Gabriel would live to be properly baptized. I cried with relief as Gabriel was being baptized but that relief was mixed with sadness that I was going to have to turn my son over to God sooner than I would have wanted. I had, following Gabriel's first diagnosis, asked God to spare me this cross but I vowed that if two weeks and one day after Gabriel's initial diagnosis, a specialist confirmed what we had already been told, I would accept God's will. I knew that I had already given my son back to God and I was blessed by every minute I had with Gabriel after he was born. Every single one of those moments were a gift.
After a long night at work I found myself having a night cap with a local bartender and his lone patron besides me. We agreed that we could discuss politics and still stay friends and so the conversation began. We talked taxation, party affiliation and abortion. "I know this is a sensitive subject," the patron said to me. I suppose he thought my experience with Gabriel, a child who had at least a 90% chance of being aborted if he were given a different mother, has made me passionately opposed to abortion. He just doesn't understand that the reason my son was carried to term was because I was already passionately opposed to abortion. I believe in an unborn child's right to live; that didn't change because the unborn child I was carrying wasn't going to be what I thought he would be. He wasn't going to play football for the East High Blades or become a doctor or make me a grandmother. But he was and always will be my son.
A few cocktails later our conversation veered off into the darkness of challenging ethical questions: When is it okay to kill an unborn child? When is it okay to kill any child. What if you were in Nazi Germany, and they asked you to choose, you or your child? Or worse, one of your children to spare the other? These questions are probably impossible to answer, the kind of questions where if you are ever in this very unlikely but very unfortunate situation to have to answer them, you would have to answer them to the best of your ability and trust that God can read your heart and that your heart is pure. Then, the other patron said to me, "You know the Nazis performed a series of experiments that yielded information about the human brain, neuroscience, but the information has been sealed. The experiments were so heinous that society has decided that the information gathered from them is not worth their benefit. The world still hasn't come close to achieving the knowledge that was gained from those experiments. Should that information be unsealed?" Well, that cuts to the heart of my matter, doesn't it? With more knowledge about the human brain, it is possible my son might still be here today. He has just presented me with a scenario that, if true, could have meant the difference in the length of my son's life. I might not have been lighting a candle yesterday; instead, I might have been holding my four month old son.
The question is impossible -- I don't even know if what the man said was true, but even if he were telling the truth, I don't have the power to access that information. Perhaps it is easy for me to answer this question knowing my answer doesn't matter, but my answer is still no. No, I wouldn't want that information unsealed, not just for the sake of saving my own son's life anyway. I wish I could say I don't want that information because of how it was obtained. Because experiments performed on Jews in Nazi Germany stripped those victims of their dignity, caused their suffering, devastated the world, orphaned children, caused other parents to have to lose their own children which is an experience I would wish on no one. I wish I could say that the only reason I would answer that impossible question with "No" is because I think it is morally correct to to keep that information sealed.
But my answer is selfish. I guess I see Gabriel as a sort of savior. I might never know how many minds he has changed and how many lives he has changed as a result. Views of his blog keep rising, I have received e-mails and public comments from strangers. A card with a link to his blog is attached to the bunch of flowers that decorates his niche at the cemetary and I don't know who might have tuned in since that was left. Gabriel's effect on the world amazes me. He undoubtedly has a place in Heaven and is it not the goal of a Catholic parent to raise children of God who will become heirs to God's Kingdom? I am selfish for not wanting to trade in my experience with Gabriel, even to have him here with me now. Some might say I have made a sacrifice, but really my loss was not my choice. I am just a selfish woman who was given a gift, who took her gift and held and enjoyed him. Now I selfishly want to be a part of Gabriel's mission.
"But not my will, but Your will be done," Jesus said. God's will was for Gabriel to live for ten days. They were exhausting days that challenged me, challenged my husband, challenged our marriage all for an inevitable ending. But they are ten days that I wouldn't give back, days that I will cherish for the rest of my life and that, as I am dying in what I hope is many years from now I will recall as I look forward to joining my son. And just like I wouldn't give back those ten days, I wouldn't take my son back now. I would not pluck him from his place in heaven just to have him in my arms, not after all the good he has done for others. Not after all the good that he has done for me. God's will, God's plan, is perfect. We are not promised a life free from struggle and pain. We are only promised that God will carry us through it.