Our parishioners will remember well the story of little Liam Janssen who was born with Trisomy 18 in April of last year. I had the privilege of baptizing him into the Family of the Church while he was at Sick Kids Hospital and against all odds and every hope he was not expected to ever go home. He did, however, make it home if only for a week and a half when suddenly and in his sleep he slipped from their arms and lives to be with Christ. Last week, April 2nd, marked the one-year anniversary of Liam’s birth and it also just happens to be John Paul II Day in Ontario, for the Holy Father died on April 2nd 2005. John Paul II was a champion for the voiceless, particularly children and the unborn. It is fitting that Liam would have come into the world on the anniversary of the death of one of its greatest popes who would most certainly have spurned Kevin and Wendy on in their fight for treatment for their little son. The following is a letter Wendy wrote to Liam on his first birthday, though he will be celebrating in heaven. (Fr. C.)
We wanted to do something in memory of Liam since today would have been his first birthday. It’s a sad day for us as we had hoped we could have been celebrating, but instead we are remembering him and the wonderful memories we have. I wrote a message to Liam and decided to email it at the exact time he was born. We will also be blowing bubbles outside, one for each day he was with us, which was 186 days. We thought it was a great way for the kids to do something special for Liam on this day.
We can remember clearly the day you were born, how scared we were, not knowing what the future was going to bring us. I wasn’t ready for you to come into the world because I knew you were comfortable and safe where you were, and we knew what you were going to have to endure.
When you finally arrived you were 4lbs 6oz. You were blue and in distress and we sensed something was wrong. I didn’t even get to hold you, I just kissed your tiny head as they whisked you off and out of sight. We saw you for only a few seconds, but long enough to see what a beautiful baby you were. I remember how small you looked, especially after Adam who was 9lbs. When we finally got to see you again, it was agonizing to see you hooked up to so many monitors. We knew you had a heart condition but we weren’t prepared for the news that we would soon get.
When we found out you had Trisomy 18 we were devastated. Being told you were incompatible with life and not worth treating were the toughest words we had to hear. Despite all the recommendations to choose comfort care we wanted everything possible to be done to help you. We wouldn’t have chosen anything else for you. You are our baby, a precious life God gave us, and we were prepared to do whatever it took to try and get you home.
You faced so many trials, struggling to survive for 6 months, undergoing what no one should ever have to, but you were in the best place possible with amazing nurses and doctors
looking after you. We have to give them credit for the tremendous care you received. You were resilient, fighting the entire time to make it home, and you did. Your persistence accomplished what most thought wasn’t possible. You’re our wonderful miracle.
During the time you were in the hospital you had thousands of people praying for you. The support we had was tremendous and it gave us incredible strength. We wouldn’t have been able to cope without the help we were given. It was a long journey for us with not much sleep, but it was all worth it to have the time we were given with you. We would go through it all again if we had to.
The week and a half you spent at home with us was phenomenal. We enjoyed every moment with you, creating as many memories as we could. You were so happy, as were we, to be able to all be together. If only you hadn’t left us so soon. Now we only have those memories to hold on to, memories we are very grateful for. Six months wasn’t long nor was the 1 1/2 weeks we had with you at home, but God had a plan for you that we have to accept and we are at peace knowing you are with Him in heaven, and we have to thank Him for the time He gave us.
We know you now have everything you need and are the happiest you could possibly be, for you couldn’t be in a better place. Now you can celebrate in the perfect way. You get to have your first birthday cake with Jesus, and who could ask for a better friend to have at their party. I hope the angels sing for you since we can’t, I’m sure the music would be beautiful. I know you don’t need any gifts because you have everything you need. So we only have one wish for you today and that is for you to be able to see us again someday. We love you and miss you.
Happy 1st Birthday Liam!
God Bless. Wendy Janssen (Liam’s mom)