Dear John Paul,
It has been a while since I have written but rest assured, while my letters may be slow in coming, my kisses and love for you is not.
One week ago yesterday, you turned one year old. What an incredible milestone! At one year old, you have not yet cut your first tooth and yet you have defied the statistics. You are not a statistic John Paul. You are a child of a God, who loves you very much and who has big plans for you.
Most kids are pretty unaware of their first birthdays and I am sure you were no exception. Nonetheless, we did a pretty awesome job of celebrating....Aunt Katie kicked off the fun by sneaking in and decorating with streamers, balloons and a banner, then Miss Sheryl stopped by at around 8:30 with cupcakes, our friends the Hatches came to celebrate around 10:30 with donuts, and then you got a nice snuggle with Aunt Suzy. Then in the afternoon both Nanny and Pop-pop Aronne and Nanny and Pop-pop Kilner stopped by with cupcakes, then Fr. Michael Paris stopped by and gave you a birthday blessing along with Mrs. Sweatman and Baby Hugh and Kate! In your downtime, you enjoyed looking at all the pictures of your friends who wanted to wish you happy birthday with cool signs. You were pretty pooped by dinner time but you woke up in time for singing Happy Birthday with dad and the other kids and you thoroughly enjoyed your taste of chocolate frosting. For a grand finale, the Mr. and Mrs. Moss came over in the evening to wish you "Happy Birthday" also.
You also had some pretty amazing people celebrating your birthday in Rome. Your godmother, Aunt Mary, was in Rome on your birthday and was able to have an intention for you put on Pope Benedict XVI's private mass for the day before your birthday. She and Aunt Katie, with the help of your great uncle John also were able to have a picture of our family signed with a special birthday message by Don Javier Echevarria, the prelate of Opus Dei. Wow!
On the weekend, you got a taste for college life when you helped mommy "pin" Aunt Suzanne for the ceremony for finishing nursing school. Aunt Suzy wanted you especially to be there because she has come several times a week since you have come home and helped take care of you many nights into the wee hours. I was so glad you could be there to cheer her on. Then we went to Grandma and Grandpa Gabriel's house to celebrate the pinning and your birthday.
When we returned home from Grandma and Grandpa's, you had a visit from a wonderful priest from a local parish. He had such beautiful insight to your vocation. While all of us are called to have a priestly soul, you, John Paul have a priestly vocation. You may never be ordained, but I believe the mark on your soul is just as real. A priest is someone who offers sacrifice in order to make reparation for sin.
I want to tell you about something that happened not long before you were born. When I was about 8 months pregnant with you, someone that your father knows through business confided in him. He and his wife were about 12 weeks pregnant with their second child. But they had gotten some tests done that gave them some pretty bad news. The doctors told them that there was something wrong with their baby. He would never walk, he would never hit normal milestones, he would probably not live more than a couple of years. That baby's mommy and daddy were scared. Your father tried to encourage that daddy and we both prayed for them. But that mommy and daddy didn't know that God would carry them through the hardship and shine a beautiful light through their baby's life. They chose not to let that baby be born.
John Paul, your father and I have were very affected by this. We felt so sad that this baby didn't get a chance to show his mommy and daddy that God is the best daddy and that He would take care of them. I felt the need to make up for that injustice by doing a sacrifice...being 8 months pregnant, the first thing that popped in my head was to deliver you without an epidural. I had never done this before and as your due date drew closer and you got bigger and bigger...I started getting cold feet. I made a deal with God...if I go into labor on my own...I'll forgo the epidural, but if I get induced...I'll take the epidural....(truth be told, the doctor was already threatening induction). Well, I was induced. I got my epidural....and after a couple of hours I started feeling nauseated and had low blood pressure and you started having high blood pressure...we turned off the epidural. It was time to push...for two hours...finally we used a vacuum to move things along, but then your body didn't follow...the next moments turned into nurses pushing on my stomach and pulling and tearing. Your arm was broken, you couldn't breathe, you were bruised, barely moving...you were already a priest.
In the days and weeks that followed, as we slowly grasped what your diagnoses meant...it was clear that God wanted you as a special messenger of the value of a life that could not be measured in human terms. You are doing a better job than anyone with a voice could--you are the perfect messenger because you don't let true human weakness--sin and and self interest--cloud the view.
Well my letter has become longer than I intended but I want to thank you for being the fighter you are.
I love you more today,