Editor’s note: For the past few months, our CatholicMom.com community has journeyed with the Tighe family as they received, accepted and lived out the devastating news of their precious new baby’s fatal prenatal diagnosis. This week, little Luke Tighe was born, baptized and left this world to enter Our Father’s heavenly embrace. Throughout this trial, Tommy has bravely shared the journey here, at other blogs and on social media as a true witness of what it means to choose life. Today, as we mourn little Luke’s passing, we pray together for this amazing little soul, for the Tighe family and for the dignity of every human life. We ask your continued prayers for Tommy, Karen and their children in this, their moment of sorrow. Tommy, please know how grateful we are that we were able to pray in solidarity with you. St. Luke and Blessed James Alberione, pray for us! Lisa M. Hendey, Editor, CatholicMom.com
Living in a Facebook world, we can easily fall into the trap of obsessively measuring ourselves against our peers.
Are we having as many kids as the other families in our parish? Are we as physically fit and healthy as those of a similar age? Are we having as much fun? Are our vacations as glamorous? Are we praying as much, tithing as much, or volunteering as much as the next guy?
Never have I fallen victim to this desire to rank myself as much as I have since receiving a fatal prenatal diagnosis for my son. When my wife was nearly 20 weeks pregnant, we were told that our beautiful baby had bilateral renal agenesis, which means he will die a few minutes after he is born.
Almost immediately after hearing the news, I started to travel down the foolish path of ranking my suffering.
If I heard someone talk about losing an elderly loved one, I internally rolled my eyes, knowing that my situation was worse than theirs. A miscarriage in early pregnancy? Same.
I went along feeling pretty high and mighty about how I was suffering worse than anyone I knew until getting a dose of reality from the mother of my six-year-old’s best friend.
She and her husband lost their child when he was 9 months old.
I had met my match.
At this point, all of my mental exercises to rank the trials and tribulations of those I met brought me to a very serious moment of self-reflection.
What was I doing?
Why was it so important for me to sort out those who were suffering less than me from those who were suffering more?
Deep down, I think it came from a place of wanting to be understood while at the same time wanting to keep people at arm’s length from my darkest moment.
While I yearned to be able to sit down with someone outside of our situation who could comprehend what I was going through, I feared siting down with that person as well. And so, I twisted and turned everything into categories that prevented me from allowing anyone to say that they truly understood what I was feeling.
This ranking, though, did me no good.
We are all broken; we all walk through this world as a hurting people, suffering and in clear need of a savior. The specifics of it aren’t really the important thing, but rather the reality that God’s plan is to impart his grace and peace to us through our fellow brothers and sisters.
Dropping the battle of who is suffering more, and allowing ourselves to be at peace with this truth, is a huge step toward being able to give and receive the comforting love we all so badly need from each other.
Infertility, miscarriage, declining health, unstable employment, divorce, abuse, the loss of a parent, spouse, child; we are all suffering, and we all have something to offer our brothers and sisters who are suffering right alongside us.
Love is not proud. Love does not boast. Love does not rank.
And love is exactly what all of us suffering need more than anything else.
Copyright 2016 Tommy Tighe