A while back I was attending a First Friday gathering where we had an interesting experience-sharing activity. Fr. Gavin asked us to write down for later sharing the best things that ever happened to us (and the reasons we considered it the best thing) and the worst thing that ever happened to us (and the reasons we considered it the worst thing). As I reflected on my life, pondering over what really and truly I would consider the best thing and what I would consider the worst, I stumbled against a dilemma: the best thing and the worst thing were the same thing! I didn't think that Fr. Gavin would expect that particular outcome, and when I shared my thoughts, his stunned surprised indicated that he clearly had not considered that the best and worst things might be the same, but he understood my reasons for saying this.
I identified the birth of Noelle, with her array of birth defects, as the worst thing that had happened. This was not the cute, cuddly baby we had expected. In fact, it would be some time before we could even pick her up because she had to be airlifted out of town and run through a series of surgeries. Thirty years ago, surviving spina bifida, epilepsy, Arnold-Chiari malformation, paraplegia, and hydrocephalus, along with some of the surgeries done to manage her life, such as a colostomy, was not as likely as it is today. Never, though, is it easy to handle all the physical, psychological, emotional, educational, relationship, etc., etc., needs of a handicapped child. Learning that my perfect baby had some imperfections in the eyes of the world, at least in the eyes of the medical world was not the best moment of my life.
Or was it? I could not think of anything better that had happened to me. Through Noelle, I learned much that I would never have known. Through her, I became ready to mother Doah. Through her and Doah, our family bonded, our able-bodied children learned compassion, and all our children learned a lot about creative problem-solving as we struggled to figure out ways to incorporate all our children into all our activities (e.g, traveling, hiking, roller-skating -- even paraplegic Noelle learned to roller-skate, braces and all). None of them are afraid of life because they have met it head-on, thanks to unique situations that first Noelle, and then Doah, and the Shura introduced us to. And, of course, thanks to Noelle and Doah, we were all ready to open our home and hearts to Shura when the time came.
Interesting, isn't it? Just when we think something really bad has happened, God puts it all into a different light, using it for good, and showing us the very worst can actually be the very best.