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Anna’s Sacred  Space

Their attraction grew into trust, and love led to commitment.  A young couple began planning life together that included a child. How excited they were when they found out that they were to be parents. They kept this precious secret to themselves as they savored the nine months ahead. Too soon their joy turned into fear as they learned that their precious baby had serious health problems. Sick at heart they were shocked and in turn angry, scared, tempted to terminate the pregnancy.  Communication between them that had been open and honest, became secretive and protective, each trying to sort out their feelings of fear, blame and shame. He became busier spending hours away from home.  She was confused and protective of the life growing inside her wondering what the future held for them as parents and their helpless and sick baby.  Would she be up to loving and caring for this baby with multiple and demanding health needs. What would the baby look like? She wanted this child no matter; he was fearful, his manhood on trial, he kept a tight hold on his emotions.

Anna arrive one bright December morning, weak and compromised, and was rushed to the neonatal ICU. Then began the day to day constant care to keep her alive.  She spent every waking hour in the hospital just being present to Anna who was hooked up to machines and tubes, looking on this mite of a baby with complicated nursing needs. She was fearful to even hold the baby with a nurse present. He didn’t want to visit at all. Soon her mothering instincts couldn’t be contained as Anna clutched her finger and looked into her eyes as she struggled to breathe.  Over the door she wrote “Welcome to Anna’s Sacred Space”.  Even the doctors responded to this invitation.  Five months later, and well prepped, they took Anna home.  They took turns caring for this beautiful child with countless health needs.  He grew in respect and love for his daughter who underwent painful procedures and tests utterly relying on these two adults for protection and love.  She took pride in introducing her Anna to her grandparents. Four months later on a routine visit to the hospital to reinsert a dislodged tube, Anna spiked a temperature, her heart started racing, and in spite of all medical interventions Anna died. Her stunned and disbelieving parents became steeped in grief.

As I stood at the bedside in the ICU unit holding hands with Anna’s faith-filled and grieving parents, they shared the beauty and meaning of Anna’s life for them as they understood it at this time. He said my life is changed forever; although she never spoke a word she taught me about trust, love and endurance. She spoke about the gift and privilege it was of caring for someone, their baby, who trusted that she would be there for her at all times. Their quiet grief was painful to watch, the only answer was presence.

The funeral two days later was a testament of their fidelity as they walked behind the little white casket down the aisle of the church hand-in-hand as they gave their daughter back to the creator who had gifted them with this precious angel for nine months.

- Sister Ann Marshall, csj

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Reader Comments (2)

Thank you for sharing this magnificent, poignant experience, Ann.

September 11, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJean Moylan

A very poignant story...thank you Ann.

September 12, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMargo

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