Editor’s note: The following story, which was originally published by Aleteia’s French edition, originally appeared on Jacques Gauthier’s blog.
Life is a mystery that eludes us, but love allows us to welcome it until the very end, from birth to death. Daniel and Lise Lanoie reflected on this an article in the most recent newsletter of St. Hyacinth Church, L’Envoi (November-December 2013 , p. 8-9).
Daniel and Lise already had two children when Lucie was born on 24 January 1979. She was hospitalized at the age of three months, when doctors discovered many handicaps: microcephaly, scoliosis, partial deafness, and significant intellectual disability. Her parents were gathered together with a host of experts – a neurologist, a psychologist, a pediatrician, and social worker – to be told that their daughter had a life expectancy of ten years. The team tried to convince the parents to institutionalize their daughter, as it would require a lot of care and struggle for a couple to get through such an ordeal. But their decision was unequivocal.
“We chose to trust life, and the love we have between us was big enough to rise to the occasion. Lucie is our child, and we knew we would do everything we could to make life easier for her, and to have her experience the unconditional love of her brother and sister. Our challenge in the early years was her integration at all levels, and finding the appropriate resources and schools (René St-Pierre) that would allow her to develop her potential to socialize and interact with others.”
Lucie neither ate nor drank alone. She suffered from incontinence and could not walk or talk. She enjoyed watching children’s programs on television. She laughed and expressed her joy by moving her arms and making sounds. She was enrolled in school, and continued to attend classes until age 21.
In 1998, her brother David, aged 24, became intoxicated while handling chemicals. His bone marrow was completely destroyed. The only treatment is a transplant between siblings and transfusions to keep him alive. David’s elder sister proved to be incompatible, and Lucie, who was then 21, was a more complicated matter given her disabilities. But after three days of waiting, the family goes from discouragement to hope when they learn that Lucie is fully compatible with her brother.
The Miracle of Life
Life is stronger than anything, and it flows when you do not expect, and in ways that we wouldn’t imagine. There is something divine in this spirit of life. I think everyone is born with a mission in life, and it is in living that one’s mission is discovered. For Lucie, it was to give life to his brother; to be fruitful in her own way, for she was a unique and different woman. I defer to her parents, for whom their daughter will always be “our dear Lucy.”
“Lucie gave life to her brother by the gift of her bone marrow, and thereby defines her role as a woman to give life – in a different way, of course, by saving the life of her brother. David is completely healed. Today, he is a father of two little girls, aged 5 and 3, despite the negative prognosis because of chemotherapy.”
Lucie died peacefully on 14 November 2005 at the Dieu de Saint-Hyacinthe Hospice while in palliative care. She was nearly 27 years old. She was spent at the end of her life, worn like a very old person. She died softly, like a candle, in the presence of her parents, as in the day of her birth. They wrote: “We could not have wished for a more beautiful end.”
“The meaning of Lucy’s life was, among others, to enable us to help each other as a couple, to take focus away from ourselves and to look out for the wellbeing of others. Her presence has also allowed many others to react, to think, to become inspired. Her case generated a lot of interest.”
" Lucy gave life to her brother, and thus fulfilled her life calling. Importantly, it has allowed us to become aware of the value of a life – of all life."
This prophetic word appeared on the announcement of her death : “You are precious in my eyes, and I love you” (Isaiah 43:4).