the last rite

Every Thursday I look back at a specific day and time that was spent with my daughter Matilda as she waited for, received, and recovered from a liver transplant. She was in the hospital for 72 days and we remained in NYC until she turned four months old.

November 2nd, 2012 - the last rite

Surviving a liver transplant at six weeks old with only one percent of functional liver remaining is unlikely. I know this not just because the transplant team explained the unfavorable statistics, but because out of the 30+ families who have contacted me over the last two years none of the babies have survived.

I take great responsibly in caring for and listening to families who are going through what we did with Matilda. So as much as I had hoped and trusted in that feeling that everything was going to be okay in the end, the reality of the matter spilled onto my lap and the seriousness of the situation never left my side.

We called the priest to perform the last rites on Matilda. I was confident that if she needed to go home to heaven, she would. It wasn't about any of that. It was about celebrating the gift of the sacrament. If she was going to have to miss the sacraments of confirmation, communion, or marriage for that matter, then at least she would have this - the sacrament of the sick and dying. I wanted her to be bathed in the light. To be clothed in all things good. I wanted her to be so full of love that nothing else mattered. So full of faith that the surgeons felt her strength.

I knew the facts. I knew the reality. I knew that it wasn't our choice - that God had a plan. And I had made my peace with that. But I hadn't agreed to go without a fight. Matilda after all means "mighty in battle" and there was no doubt in my mind that she was strong enough to win this. She didn't have a sword, she didn't have a shield, she didn't even have a voice. But when I looked into her eyes, I knew she had faith. She told me of the love that she felt from heaven. She told me that everything that was happening was just the beginning. That what she was experiencing was about so much more.

We had been stripped of everything, but faith is everlasting.

As the priest was blessing Matilda, tears filled my eyes, and the room fell silent. I imagined a waterfall of spirit pouring onto my little baby and spilling out into the hallway. Her body was dying, but she was full of life.

The priest continued on in prayer, unfazed by the doctors that flooded the room. The liver was good, it had been removed successfully, and was on its way to New York. It was official. Matilda was getting a transplant in the next couple of hours. The priest smiled as he placed a hand over Matilda to finish the sacrament.

She was ready.

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