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As the countdown to the birth and certain death of my child nears its culmination, despite the fact that I hope in the Lord and His will for my family, I am consumed by fear.
The fear of being stuck in traffic while trying to get home to a wife who has a history of quick labor, the fear of having to hold and watch my child as he struggles to breathe before ultimately giving in, the fear of having to stand before that tiny casket as they lower it into the ground, and as if the present situation weren’t enough, the fear of our future fertility and the potential of having to go through all of this all over again.
While I know this isn’t the “correct Catholic response” to my situation, I’m going to say it anyway:
Our fatal prenatal diagnosis has left me terrified of another pregnancy.
Just saying that gives me mixed emotions.
While on the one hand I feel cheated out of a chance to grow our family, on the other I can’t even imagine the stress of waiting those dreadful 20 weeks to wait for the ultrasound to check if everything is okay.
Despite the fact I firmly understand, and experience daily, the greater truth that children are the supreme gift of marriage, my fear pushes me toward suppressing that truth in favor of avoiding another round of the suffering that has come to define the last 20 weeks of my life.
At this point, I should probably clearly point out that my wife and I will not allow this fear to lead us down the path of contraception, not even close, although our experience gives me a clear openness to and understanding of those who would choose differently. But in fact, this has nothing to do with family planning in any sense of the word.
Instead, this is about a fear that most of us have felt at one point or another in our lives, a fear that can keep us from being free to live the life that we wish we were courageous enough to live.
But what if there’s something more important than fear?
Well-known beatnik James Neil Hollingsworth, who wrote under the pseudonym Ambrose Redmoon, penned an oft quoted aphorism “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.”
Truth is more important than fear. Our faith is more important than fear. Children are more important than fear.
Trusting God is more important than fear.
As I sit here, realizing that at any moment over the next two weeks the process that will lead to me holding my child as he passes from this life into the next will begin, I’m still so completely and absolutely terrified.
And yet, at the same time, I have found an odd sense of consolation.
St. John tells us, “There is no fear in love … perfect love drives out fear,” and the love that my wife and I have for each other, for our three older children, for the one we will almost certainly lose, and the ones who may be yet to come, is more important than fear.
And because love is more important than fear, we carry on.
“Love is stronger than death …”
Song of Songs 8:6
Tommy Tighe is a Catholic hipster, husband and father. You can follow him on Twitter @theghissilent.