Every human life has value.

The other day a good friend drew my attention to an obituary that ran in our local paper recently. It comes from the family of a young girl who died just 42 minutes after she was born:

Hailey Marie Glavin

GLAVIN Hailey Marie Glavin was born Friday, June 12, 2009, at St. Mary’s Health Center in Jefferson City. Hailey spent her life cradled in the arms of her loving parents. In 42 minutes, Hailey’s life was complete as she peacefully went home, but not before leaving her footprint in this world and in the hearts of many. Twenty weeks into life, Hailey was diagnosed with Trisomy 13. Her condition was said to be “incompatible with life”, but Hailey proved otherwise. Although her life only lasted moments, they are moments that others will live and experience for a lifetime. Hailey’s proud and blessed parents, Tim and Rachelle Glavin, and big brother, Ryan Glavin, survive at their home in Jefferson City, Mo.

This obituary reminded me a video I saw not too long ago of an interview with Diane Elder, another woman who decided to give birth despite knowing that her child was also not likely to live long after. Elder contacted CNN for the interview after the news channel had, as part of their coverage of the Tiller murder, previously aired a similar interview with a woman who elected for a late term abortion (h/t SuzyB.org)

And then there was this interview at Conversion Diary with Jason and Angie Berger whose daughter Sunni was born with Mitochondrial Disease, an energy disorder that has stalled her at less than one year of development, cognitively and physically:

When asked how he created such stunning works of art, a famous sculptor once said that he instills in his mind a clear image of the form and then removes everything that is not a part of it. In a way, God has shorn from Sunni nearly all of the adornments that would be considered part of a basic human life. She cannot act on her own, communicate, or possibly understand even simple concepts. She is left as a nearly pure example of human life without anything to distract us from its elegant beauty…

Sunni, and the way we care for her, is a witness to others. I sense in people a revulsion to seeing a person, especially a child in so damaged a condition. That is a natural reaction, and one that most labor hard to conceal. But it is important to Angie and I that Sunni be seen by others and that we be seen caring for her and enjoying our lives despite the sadness that it can bring.

If only everyone could see life this way! By truly loving the disabled/unborn child and treating him/her as a human being worthy of the good of life (if only for a short while) these families have discovered that this act of love, though it may not take the suffering away, can make it bearable for everyone involved.

I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.
~Mother Teresa

To love is the vocation of every human being on earth. It is the commandment Christ gave us before he died, the message of the Cross itself and a truth repeatedly revealed and realized throughout human history, especially in the midst of extreme suffering.

I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love. … In a position of utter desolation, when a man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way – an honorable way – in such a position man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment. (Man’s Search for Meaning, by Holocaust survivor and psychoanalyst Victor Frankl)

Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this saying, (namely) “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law (Romans 13:8-10).

June 17th, 2009 at 11:29 pm
3 Responses to “Love Makes Suffering Bearable”
  1. 1
    Bob Foster Says:

    Very well put.

  2. 2
    ~Melissa Says:

    ~I too am the mother of a Trisomy 13 angel. While I pass no judgement on what a woman chooses for herself, I do feel compassion for all women who lose a much loved, and wanted child. I chose life for my son, and don’t regret a moment of our time together. As the heading of your blog states…the unconditional love that I feel for him gets me through this time of healing. Your blog is beautifully written.
    Love, Peace, & Nimkee blessings,
    Melissa

  3. 3
    Paladin Says:

    …and you seriously pondered whether you’d “lost your touch”? If this is you losing your touch, I can’t wait to see you on the top of your game! :)

    Beautiful, insightful post… and badly needed, in our confused world! Colossians 1:24…