Yesterday, Isaac, my mom and I were having dinner. Isaac said, “Mom, why did Gianna disappear?” We proceeded to have a conversation we’ve had many times before about the fact that Gianna died, that we will see her in Heaven, but that she does not get to grow up and how we are all very sad that she isn’t here with us. Then as quickly as the subject came up, it was gone. Having been warned ahead of time, I am fairly used to this aspect of a preschooler’s grief. My mom is not. She commented that it must just “rip my heart out” to hear Isaac say such things. Well, no. I actually enjoy these times, since I like to talk about my baby (what mom doesn’t?) and it gives me a little window into where Isaac is in his grief. Sometimes it seems as if he doesn’t even remember her, or that he has “moved on”. These little glimpses remind me of how much love he still has for his little sister.
The other thing my mom said that struck me was what a tragedy it was for Gia to suffer so much. That it seemed like such a waste. Yikes! Hopefully it is obvious that I did not enjoy watching my child suffer. Brad and I were the ones there giving her nasty medications that didn’t end up helping, holding her down during endless blood draws and procedures, trying to console her when nothing seemed to. It was horrible. But to say that it is waste? That it is too bad she had to go through all that, with the implication that it would have been better for her to have never been born? That’s dangerous thinking.
No one likes suffering, and it is normal to want to avoid it. It is right and good to desire to shield an innocent baby from harm. It is normal to wonder why, to grieve, to cry out to God. But when we begin assuming that someone’s suffering makes their life not worth living, we are going down a path that is not easy to return from. Is it worth keeping alive a baby who will have Down’s Syndrome? Is it worth letting an inner city baby leave the womb intact only to face a life of poverty? How about if Grandpa is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s? Why not just shoot him now and save us all the trouble?
My mom and others are well-meaning. They are trying to come to terms with a tremendously difficult situation. But we do not heal from pain by avoiding it. Being “creative” about avoiding suffering only leads to more suffering. What Gianna taught us was that every life matters. That every cross, joined with Christ’s, can be redemptive. That from Heaven, we will all look back and see only Heaven.
I wish things had turned out differently. I wish my son was snuggling his little sister instead of bringing her up once and a while at dinner. But I know, (God willing I get there!) I will see her again in Heaven. And as we gaze together upon the face of the God who created us, Gianna’s Passion will appear to us a path of gold. And we will not regret a day of it.
For some background on Gianna’s illness and death, look at the “About” section under “My kids”.