Tiny Princess, Pray for us!
(From an email to family and friends dated December 10, 2018)
Last night a moment arrived that I knew was coming but for which I could have never prepared enough. My baby daughter (known to some on the internet as “Tiny Princess”), born only eight months and two days ago, breathed her last as her mother and I held her in our arms. We had been preparing for this moment from the day of her birth back in April, but no amount of mental preparation really makes you ready for the moment when your child’s soul passes to eternity while their body remains behind.
The initial couple hours was much harder on mommy. I switched over to “on a mission” mode: keeping fastidious notes in the medical journal; making sure the kids were brought to see their sister one last time in an orderly and disciplined manner; notifying our family, our pastor, and several friends; cleaning and clearing the living room to make way for my wife’s sister and a handful of friends who immediately came over; generally keeping busy and being useful. But there were little things that prevented me from staying in the mindset of “I’ve got a job to do and need to focus only on that” which I didn’t expect, like turning off the auto-timer on my coffee maker. It had already been set to start brewing at 5:00 AM the next morning, the time I get up to take over watching my daughter, that precious hour and a half when I would have her all to myself in the quiet stillness of the morning. This morning was also quiet and still, but missing was the grip of her tiny hand on my pinky while the rest of the house slept.
Late last night I made the final entry in my daughter’s medical journal: that she was departing our home for the last time, en route to the funeral home. We had her body buckled into her car seat which I carried out to funeral home’s van. The phrase “I’ll take it from here sir, we’ll take good care of her” hit me a lot harder than I would have expected. It’s one thing to know that God gives you your children only for a while. At some point we have to let them go to make their way in the world. If we’re more traditional, we raise our daughters in obedience until we give them away to live according to God’s calling for them in this life. The realization hit me hard: in handing over the car seat I was giving away my little girl… not to any vocation of this world but giving her to God completely. How can I not be happy for her and proud that her pure, innocent soul now sees and will see God face-to-face for all eternity? At the same time, how can I not shed tears of sorrow that I can no longer hold her in my arms?
Now begins the bittersweet week where we will celebrate the votive Mass of the Angels before my baby girl is buried in the “little heaven” section of the cemetery which is reserved for the Baptized who died before attaining the use of reason. Now also, in a renewed way, we strive to live in a manner which is pleasing to God so that we can see her again in eternity.
Sometimes I’ve thought of children who die before they are able to offend God as the lucky ones: they go straight to heaven. But on second thought, maybe they regard us as the lucky ones. While they were never able to offend God they were also incapable of doing what we can do every moment of every day: willingly and selflessly give our thoughts and actions to the service of God. I imagine that my daughter is praying and interceding for me, her mom, and her siblings, and all of our friends and her benefactors with the hope that we’ll not only make it to heaven but that she’ll be able to tell the other holy innocents around her: “See those radiant souls waaaaaay up there, closer to God? Those are my family and friends!!!”
And so I renew my vows to renounce satan, his works, and his pomps and to serve God as thoroughly and completely as I can. Pray for us, my daughter — we are working to be with you as soon as God’s Will allows!