(Photo: Unsplash/Bethany Zwag)

Caterina and that 'yes' to say in every moment

The news of pregnancy, the joy and gratitude. Then, the diagnosis of a disease that would not allow the baby to survive. "I was overwhelmed by pain and anger," says the mother. Until an encounter...

At the end of last March, my husband and I found out that we were expecting our third child. We were not 'ready' for such news, but I remember our happiness that day and my husband's beautiful smile. A few weeks later, we told our two daughters about the arrival of the little sister they had been longing for: we were really happy and I remember the gratitude I felt during those days thinking that I really had everything I wanted from life.

In May the unexpected happened. On the feast of St. Rita, the patron saint of 'impossible causes', our life suddenly changed: during an ultrasound scan, potential problems began to appear in our baby, which a few days later were confirmed by a diagnosis that gave us no hope of survival, due to a serious chromosomal disease. I spent the first few months questioning everything, primarily my faith, which collapsed. Why did Jesus decide to give me such great pain overnight? How can one carry a pregnancy knowing that their daughter could die any day? How do you tell your other daughters that their much-desired sister was soon destined for heaven?

I was overwhelmed with grief and anger, I went through dark days. I never denied the encounter with Jesus that I had made years before, but it simply no longer seemed real, current to me in those days. Why had he abandoned me overnight? I always had many friends around, but I remember the loneliness of those days. Nothing and no one could take that pain away from me. I did not feel able to carry on with a pregnancy in which our child, given the diagnosis, would have died anyway. Everything seemed out of my reach and I felt totally incapable of standing up to what was asked of me. To stay on my feet I tried to cling to my family and do nice things, but nothing sustained me.

Until a meeting with a gynaecologist changed everything. During the first ultrasound with her, I realised that she loved my daughter more than I did, and above all she looked at her as a child and not because of her illness. I was so struck by this doctor's gaze on me and my husband, as well as on our little girl, that from that day on, I began to see a possible way forward: within such a companionship, it was possible to carry a pregnancy. From that day on, I slowly began to give in to His presence, starting with the meeting with this gynaecologist who helped us not to look at our daughter through the eyes of the world.

They were intense months, in which darkness, sadness and pain did not lack, but in which we received much more than we asked for. They were months of encounters, of new friendships, of beauty, a succession of 'yeses' by letting what happened happen, and every day we thanked the good Lord that our little girl was still with us. We learnt to live one day at a time, certain that within each moment there was and is everything we need, certain that when we let Jesus in, grace happens. I never felt "capable" of carrying this pregnancy, but as Jone said at the Beginning Day, I know Who made it possible. I was then struck by our daughters, who for months asked simply and insistently for the miracle of their sister's healing, certain that Jesus is good and would listen to them. The certainty with which they prayed was beautiful to look at every day.

During the last period of pregnancy, important medical decisions were made, but every time we were discussing them with our gynaecologist, I went home with a grateful heart. We always chose together with her what seemed truest to us, looking at the great good that by now Caterina (this is the name we gave our little girl) was for all of us, within a communion that only a friendship in Jesus and of Jesus makes possible. I remember each ultrasound scan as the most desired moment, both because we could see our baby girl – knowing that, given the situation, there might not be another one – and because it was evident to me how within such a companionship and gaze even my pregnancy, which on the surface was only pain, was a gift and a preference that God had wanted for us.

The closer the day of delivery approached, the more at peace I was, certain that whatever happened was the best thing for us and for Caterina. We were accompanying her to the fulfilment of her destiny, something that we are also doing with our other two daughters; Caterina's fate was simply already written. The constant embrace of our friends and all the doctors I met in the hospital really made me experience a joy that is difficult to describe because it is humanly impossible except within the work of Another. Our prayers and those of our friends never failed us (they prayed for us from Argentina to Singapore) and I often wished to pray alone, no longer asking for explanations, but asking for Him to show Himself in every moment. I realised that what saved me, and still saves me today, is to ask: "Where are You now?".

Read also - "A sweet companionship"

Caterina taught us to look at our daughters in a new way, truer and more certain of the good destiny that is there for them and for our family. Our daughter was born in Heaven on exactly the day she should have been born here on Earth. On that day the unthinkable happened again: we experienced great love and experienced unimaginable beauty, even within the pain of our child's death. I remember that shortly before the birth, we went with the gynaecologist to pray in the little chapel of the hospital. That day there was nothing truer than standing before the Cross, before the One who thought of us and wanted us together, making Caterina's miracle possible. That day, as well as the day of the funeral, showed us again that within a companionship one can say 'yes' to God with peace and joy in their heart from another world, in this world. The real drama today is not not having Caterina with us, the real drama is not saying 'yes' to Christ in every moment.

Out of infinite gratitude for the gift that Caterina has been and is for us, we wish to make an offering to the Fraternity, certain that the path we are following within the movement is the one that best corresponds to our heart's desire for truth and beauty.