The day before our beautiful Josephine’s diagnosis, it was a Sunday. We got up early and I was not feeling great. Weeks 9-12 had been particularly rough, so I skipped going to Mass that morning while Bill went alone. The main Mass for World Youth Day was being shown live from Brazil on EWTN. I decided to record it for Bill in case he wanted to see the millions of people on the beach. So while I set about doing some morning chores, I had it on in the background. There was a moment I saw during the offertory, where a couple and their newborn were selected to take the gifts up to Pope Francis. It was a sweet moment seeing Pope Francis kiss the head of the baby.
When Bill got home from Mass, we sat down to eat lunch. I told him he had to see what I saw. I think I wanted to leap into a discussion of “How amazing if we got to take our baby to Rome on a family holiday and they got kissed by Pope Francis?” This time, as we watched, we were both listening to the commentary. There was a comment about abortion in Brazil and how it is now allowed in ‘cases like this’ and this couple refused and their baby was now here at Mass with Pope Francis after they took their baby to him at Mass the day before. When Pope Francis heard their story, he wanted them to be part of the Mass on Copacabana Beach. The commentator mentioned the illness the baby had and I set about googling it. Anen… anen-something? Then I came across the Wikipedia page for Anencephaly. I’d never heard of this before but it was so awful. I turned the page to Bill and remarked something along the lines of “Oh dear – this is what that little baby has!” Bill said “We should not be looking at stuff like that before the scan tomorrow! Close the page!” and I did.
24 hours later, after never hearing of anencephaly before, we were hearing that our baby had just that. I remember walking down the hall on our way to see my Obstetrician after the mystery person came in and told us about Joey’s ‘incompatibility with life’. I remember saying “Bill – that is what the baby had yesterday. At the Mass. It is that!”
We had somehow been forewarned on what was to come. How it all came to happen like that, we still cannot explain.
You can see the footage here at the 1h 38m mark –
Here are some news articles about what we saw that day –