This morning my husband, my two boys, and I joined with other friends to attend a Memorial Mass for a little child who left this life way too soon. It was a beautiful Mass and I felt privileged to attend and be a witness for the sanctity of life.
Our friends struggled for several years with infertility. They had prayed and discerned the road to adoption and had started the mounds of paperwork when they suddenly became pregnant. Nine months later they welcomed into their lives an adorable little girl who, I might add, is as cute as a button. Then this spring they became pregnant again. Unfortunately, this pregnancy ended all too soon. Through prayer, our friends both had strong feelings that this precious life that was lost was another girl. With that they were able to name her and I absolutely love the name they picked: Rachel Philomena.
Today was all dedicated to Rachel Philomena. The Mass was beautiful, the priest offered encouragement in his homily for us to all be united with Rachel in heaven one day, and in the intentions we prayed for all mothers who have experienced loss or are still waiting.
And then at the end of Mass, as the priest was processing out, many in the congregation started singing the first line of a Marian hymn that I now can't remember. But no announcement was made, it seemed spontaneous to me (but I don't regularly attend this parish, so maybe this is the norm at daily Mass there?). And it was perfect! I started feeling a little teary thinking of Mary and baby Rachel and all the babies who lived such short lives before God brought them home to be with Him.
As many of us gathered in the lobby area of the church after Mass, my friend introduced the priest to a couple of us and told him that we all met through an infertility support group. I then had to laugh at the thought. Here we were, four women who had met through an infertilty support group yet there we stood: three of us with children and two of us pregnant. We certainly didn't look like a group of infertile women!
But that's the beauty of this support group. We have become friends and support each other in many ways. These women have been there for me during my losses, we have all prayed for each other in times of surgeries and failed adoptions, helped each other out through months of bed rest, supported each other during various attempts with fertility drugs, shots, and blood draws, commiserated over doctors who don't understand the Catholic position, and we come together in many ways to celebrate successes but also to grieve and mourn with each other. I really couldn't ask for a better group of friends.
And so today, we all came together to witness to the life of Rachel Philomena. Little Miss Rachel represents many hopes and dreams for all of us. We have all prayed endlessly for children and God has heard those prayers, but sometimes those prayers are answered in ways we don't expect. Rachel's short life may be insignificant to some, but not to us. We know that her life was important and cherished just as much as any child. Her life stands as a witness to all of us that every life in the womb is cherished and should be welcomed into the world no matter the circumstances or how long or short that life may be.
And with a name like that, she has some pretty powerful intercessors to guide her in praying for all of us still here in this world. I feel privileged that I was able to be a part of today's Mass and to be a witness for the sanctity of life as proclaimed to us through Rachel Philomena and her amazing parents.