Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Monday 02 August |
Saint of the Day: St. Peter Julian Eymard
home iconSpirituality
line break icon

How a touching gift woke up us to the big truth: We need each other to survive

Jeffrey Bruno/CNA

Tommy Tighe - published on 10/27/16

They were there for our boy, and now for us in our grief

If you haven’t lived through the experience of holding your child in your arms as he dies, you most likely would find imagining what it’s like practically impossible.

The dizzying mix of emotions led (for me, at least) to something like an out-of-body experience, a moment of desperately trying to be completely present despite the brain attempting to escape the overwhelming terror of it all by making reality seem more like a movie.

The months that have followed my son’s birth and death have been equally dizzying.

I have experienced a deep love and gratitude for the opportunity to be with him, as well as an intense coldness and hardness of heart that comes from the anger and bitterness at having to say goodbye to my helpless child just 45 minutes after we first said hello.

Sometimes I simply can’t keep up, and the effort to fight off the coldness takes more than what I’ve got to give.

Looking at our world through my grief-stained glasses only pushes me closer to giving up … closer to allowing the coldness to swallow me whole.

But it doesn’t.

For some reason, moments of joy are sprinkled in with the grief. When I have a day where I feel like I won’t be able to go on, the next day somehow brings relief and the comfort of truly knowing God cares about me and loves me.

I’ve thought a lot about why this happens, why moments of relief seem to come when I need it the most, and I have realized there’s a bigger truth here. A truth that goes beyond the pain and suffering.

As my son’s due date was rapidly approaching, we got a visit from a couple at our parish who said they had a small gift to give us. When they arrived, they handed us a beautiful book filled with photos of each and every church and holy site they’d visited on a recent trip to Italy. It was a colorful and well put together scrapbook of a journey they had taken to see Rome and the surrounding sites. Upon a closer reading, my wife and I slowly realized just why they gave us this gift.

Along with each photo was a little description of how they prayed for our son and our entire family at each and every site. Every beautiful and ancient church, every tomb with the remains of the holiest men and women who walked the face of the earth, every spot that Catholics around the world only dream of visiting: they didn’t just stop in and admire the glory of our faith, they stopped in, knelt down, and offered up a prayer for my boy, his siblings, and my wife and I.

It was such a touching gift, and it was touching precisely because it reminded us of the bigger truth: We all need each other.

I need you. You need me.

Without each other, we simply can’t survive.

Without you, your support and your prayers, I would be absolutely destroyed by my grief.

In his first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul beautiful reminds us of this bigger truth:

The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I do not need you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I do not need you. Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are all the more necessary,and those parts of the body that we consider less honorable we surround with greater honor, and our less presentable parts are treated with greater propriety,whereas our more presentable parts do not need this. But God has so constructed the body as to give greater honor to a part that is without it,so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another.If [one] part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy. “

If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.

We are in this together. We need each other.

Let’s make an effort to remember this bigger truth as we continue to go about our lives.

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Cerith Gardiner
Simone Biles leaves the Olympics with an important lesson for her...
Ignacio María Doñoro
Francisco Veneto
The military chaplain who pretended to be a criminal to rescue a ...
Cerith Gardiner
Gold-winning Filipina Olympian shares her Miraculous Medal for th...
Theresa Civantos Barber
The one thing we all should do before this summer ends
Zelda Caldwell
German women’s gymnastics teams modest dress protests sport’s ...
Violeta Tejera
Carlo Acutis’ first stained glass window in jeans and sneak...
Zelda Caldwell
World-record winning gymnast Simone Biles leans on her Catholic f...
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.