I was not expecting that.

(A guest post from Hope Swanson, first published here on April 6, 2011. It was originally published by Hope on February 8, 2011)

Tonight in Lifespan Development, Ted showed us a video that honored the life of Eliot Mooney. Eliot’s parents found out that he had Trisomy 18.

Nine seconds into this video, I knew that I was not going to make it to the end without crying. And I did not expect that to happen when I walked into class.

If you are a frequent reader of my blog, you know that I have posted more than once about my sister. Rather than explain the story, which will bring me to tears once again, I will just post the links.

Most recently: Sept. 1 (Last year.)
Last March: Marilynn Ham and my sister

For a long time, I’ve felt very alone in this situation. I have never talked to my brother about it, and I’ve only known one other person who had a sibling with Trisomy 18. I have done enough research to know that it’s not that uncommon, but I haven’t known many people who are willing to talk about it. So I’ve felt stuck in my struggle with grief and confusion.

As the video went on, and the narrator told Eliot how old he was, I began to get jealous. He lived for 99 days. Over 3 months. My parents got five weeks. I sat in class and was angry with these parents, with that child, and with God, for giving them so much more time.

Then, as Eliot’s death was announced (and I knew it would be, because I know the disease), and the narrator described the way God had worked and how we are only separated by the rest of our earthly lives, I realized that my jealousy and anger were completely ridiculous.

I had no reason to have those feelings. This family went through exactly what my family went through. And Eliot and Kate and all of the other babies who have died of Trisomy 18 are all together with Jesus. And all their parents can’t wait to see them again. And many of them have younger siblings like me, who wish they had known them and who will run to meet them when they are at last united in Eternity. Maybe I’m stepping on some theological toes here, but I want to believe that we’ll all have a big gathering at some point, all of us who have been affected by this disease. But I know that if that doesn’t happen, it won’t matter, because everything will be perfect anyway.

I am not alone in these circumstances. I can no longer live as a lonely victim.

I learned a profound lesson in 6 minutes and 11 seconds.

I was not expecting that when I walked into class tonight.
But I’m very glad that it happened.