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Life is a Precious Gift
The number seven has a spiritual meaning of perfection and completeness. For me, seven was the number of pregnancies which did not all end perfect or complete. Yet, each in their own way reinforced the belief that life is a precious gift from God, a gift magnified through the eyes of faith.
My first son was a honeymoon baby except the delivery was nothing like a honeymoon. After 16 painful hours of labor, he was placed in my arms but for only a brief second then taken to another hospital due to possible heart complications. That night, surrounded by the cries of newborn babies, I was left alone with the unbearable thought that I could lose my child.
The next day I learned that my son was born with a serious heart defect which would later require surgery. Over the next 5 weeks in an intensive care unit, I was given a front row seat into the heart of humanity. I watched many children come and go, some going home into the arms of joyful parents, some onto the arms of our Lord. I will never forget the joy the day we brought our son home.
We went on to have two more sons and though the pregnancies and deliveries were thankfully less eventful, we were more conscious of the hope and prayers each time for a healthy child. My fourth pregnancy, I was sure was my little girl because I felt so different having no morning sickness or achy feelings. During the ultrasound, as I waited eagerly to hear that familiar beating of a little heart, I learned the pain of silence. I was told I had lost my baby and would have to undergo dilation and curettage (D&C) the very next day. It all happened so fast with no time for mourning or tears. An hour after the procedure, I was at a bowling alley with a dozen 8-year-olds celebrating my son’s birthday.
When the news got out, I learned how solo this loss can be. While said with good intent, I was consoled with “it was probably for the best” or “you’re young and could have another”, as if I discarded a broken, generic dish. One co-worker though left me a comforting note, “I know exactly what you are going through, and I am so sorry for your loss.”
Fortunately, my faith is what carried me on. My brother, who is a Catholic priest, reminded me to trust in God and take comfort knowing I had a little angel looking out for me and my family. I would go on to have two more angels, each miscarriage more painful than the last. I wanted to ask God why but knew I must trust in His plan. Yet, waiting for the results confirming a pregnancy, which once was filled with excitement, was now mixed with fear. Could I go through another loss? We did finally get our daughter, and she would be the last child according to God’s “planned parenthood.”
Each pregnancy taught me that every moment we have with our children is precious, even those babies we never get to hold in our arms. But it would be years later where my eyes of faith were opened to a deeper truth.
In an intensive care unit, alone overnight with my oldest son on life support while waiting a specialized pacemaker, a calm inner voice that was not mine spoke directly to my heart.
“He’s not yours, he never was. He always belonged to God.”
At that moment, I realized that this was true of all seven of my children. They were NEVER mine. Immediately I realized that my own life is not mine; it too belongs to God. Since I have always trusted in God, who better to belong to? The peace I found that night in a room with beeping machines and flashing lights has never left me. I consider myself truly blessed having four children still with me and my three little angels in Heaven, who I look forward to meeting one day.
Life is precious and truly a gift from God.
Cynthia J. Wood, JD, is a writer and presenter. She has taught religious education for more than 40 years. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.