On that day back when I was 11, I cried in my favorite teal butterfly dress during the memorial Mass for Robert. Why I didn’t bring more tissues, I’ll never know. For a while after that day, I didn’t think back to it very often.But now I remember it every year.
When you lose a brother, I hardly imagine it’s possible to forget.
When we found out another sibling was on the way, I was ecstatic. What a happy day to be a big sister again! When we found out Robert probably had Down Syndrome, I didn’t know what to think. We looked at a brief summary in one of our biology textbooks, but I don’t think I fully understood what it meant at the time. I just knew our lives would be much different than expected once he was born. When we later found out that Robert had already been born into heaven (we can hope), it was a sad day.
Today is the anniversary of that day.
My life was changed by Robert, just not in the way I might have expected. And I appreciate that more as I get older. I didn’t get to hold him or watch him grow up. I didn’t read books with him, teach him how to play in the mud, or build a city of blocks on our living room floor. His life was so short that we didn’t have time to create those memories together. My memories from those days are a bit vague, but they are still there:
I remember Mom and Dad walking in from that doctor’s appointment and knowing instantly that something was not right.
I remember crying the hardest I had ever cried up to that point in my life.
And I remember writing this poem for my mom, which became part of the program for that memorial Mass (just don’t examine my 11-year-old theology or grammar too deeply):
Life is such a precious thing,
A thing it hurts to lose.
Life is a gift God gives to every being
The purpose and length of their life He will choose.
How short or long your life may be
is a thing you cannot know.
Be ready all you wanderers
wherever you may go.
For God will take your life
at a time He decides is right.
Some day soon or far away
He will lead you to the light.
Each life is treasured by ones who would love you
Even if they never had the chance to say coochy-coochy-coo.
For every soul that has been taken
is awaiting you in heaven
Today I am reminded of the phrase the Sisters of Life have on the back of the medals they wear (taken from this poem):
No life is too small or casual to make an impact on the world: your life, my life, Robert’s life. We’re all these teeny tiny people in a big world given the wildly precious gift of our lives with a purpose only we are capable of fulfilling. And some just accomplish that faster than others.
Thank you, Robert, for helping me to remember that no life is too small to matter. If your short life can impact people, all of us can. Pray for us, will you?
Please join me today in remembering families who have lost a child/sibling/relative to miscarriage in your prayers. And remember: no feet are too tiny to leave an imprint in this world. It might be a big act of heroism, the quiet witness of your life, or simply the fact that you existed that makes all the difference – even if it’s for just 18 short weeks.