My mind wandered off a little during the Alleluia of the first Mass of the school year at Saint Louis Catholic School. My eyes were still looking at the music teacher singing the Gospel Acclamation, but I was suddenly thinking about the story of Abraham when he agreed to the Lord’s command to slaughter Isaac.
By the time I looked up from my songbook during the Offertory, I knew why I was thinking of Abraham: my daughter was bringing up the gifts.
Twelve years ago, on the Feast of the Assumption, my water broke. I had spent the day working at KLBJ Newsradio as an anchor/reporter and then went to my other (unpaid) job at Saint John Vianney. I got home after a long day and found out it was just starting.
The next day, I gave birth to the most beautiful little thing I have ever seen. She was perfect, as far as I was concerned.
And the day after that, the doctor told us the bump on her back (that I was hardly paying attention to) was a tumor. He said it could kill her or the surgery to remove it could. The doctor was calling an ambulance to bring her to another hospital, so she could be evaluated for surgery and possibly chemotherapy.
The doctor left. And I thanked the Lord. Out of breath and with tears in my eyes, I said, “If you gave me a dying child, I praise you. You know I’m the director of RCIA (sacramental preparation for converts) and I know the power of baptism. If you gave me a dying child so I would know she needed to be baptized to get into Heaven, then I praise you. I praise you if my only job was to prepare her for Heaven. I give You her life. You know I have no power to make her live or die. I give You her life.”
Like Abraham, I had my child on the altar. My husband and I called for a priest, who, mercifully, was immediately available from his office on the first floor of that Catholic hospital.
Four years later, my little girl had her last MRI of active cancer treatment. Her case was moved to the survivorship office. We went to Mass that Sunday with hearts full of thanksgiving and were surprised when the usher asked us to bring up the gifts. I cried bringing up gifts of bread and wine and my daughter, whom the Lord saved. I consecrated her to Him again. Since then, the Lord has repeated bringing up the gifts to me as a sign of healing.
Twelve years after my water broke, I looked up from my songbook at the Saint Louis School Mass and found my adorable seventh grader bringing up the gifts with her adorable best friends. I took a picture. Of course. And then I cried. Of course. And then I consecrated her to the Lord again.
I had no power to save her on that day after she was born. And I don’t have power over her life now. She belongs to the Lord, whom we praise for how fearfully and wonderfully she is made. As her mother, I always look at her in amazement. I never chose her hair or her eyes or consciously put her together. I’m her caregiver, not her creator.
After Mass, I stood in front of an image of Mary, who also had to give up her Son, and remarked to her that nothing I have belongs to me. Abraham put what he cherished most on the altar to give it back to God, the Source of every gift. He trusted that God was good and had a plan. Seeing my daughter bring up the gifts was a reminder to me that I worship the Giver of my gifts. He has a plan for me, my amazing daughter and all of us. May we trust the Lord even with the things we love, and may our faith be credited to us as righteousness.