Recently, my family celebrated the fifth birthday of one of our little saints. There was cake and soda, laughter and love and family. We sang “Happy Birthday” for the fifth time to a little girl who passed away five days after her birth as her baby brother (who has never met her) blew out her candles. We celebrated her short life because we know that, much as we miss her, she is taking part of that everlasting celebration of heaven. We celebrated because we have faith.
“There is no foot too small that it cannot leave an imprint on this world” — Annonymous
Bernadette, the “brave bear”, was a fighter. Her mother was told that her baby had a condition known as anencephaly less than halfway through her pregnancy. This meant that, should her child survive to term she would most likely be stillborn or at best live a few hours. She surprised us all and lived five full days. In her short life, both in and outside of the womb, she managed to leave a lasting impression on all those who knew her and her parents. Most who witnessed her parents’ unswerving faith in God’s mercy and love had one of two responses. They were either in awe of it, as I was, or they were perplexed to the point of being incapable of accepting it, much less understanding it. There were some whose rudeness in the face of something they did not understand was downright disgusting. But her parents ignored them and continued to prayerfully, faithfully, walk the path God had set before them, not understanding why but knowing full well where it was leading. If only we could all approach life in all its joys and sorrows with this amount of faith.
Regardless of whether people understood the purpose of Bernadette’s life or not, she fulfilled it. She was literally a saint among us. Her life served to teach others about the sanctity of all human life simply because she lived. Her little feet have left an imprint on not only all of us, her family, her aunts and uncles, her cousins, and most especially her parents and siblings, even her little brother, but on all those who came in contact with her: her doctor, the horrid hematologist and the wonderful delivery room nurse, the x-ray tech who first saw her condition, and the staff of the NICU. Her little feet left an imprint on us, on our friends, on our colleagues and our students. Her little feet left an imprint on this world in ways we may never know. And now, her little feet are the feet of a saint who has fulfilled her vocation of existing to praise God Who, in His infinite wisdom, created her.
Pray for us, Bernadette, now and every day, that we may join you one day in heaven.