Josh Irby

Live from Sarajevo

Life is Precious

This week a little girl named Margaret Anne reminded me of a foundational truth: life is precious.

Photo by Ryan McCullah (Creative Commons)

Photo by Ryan McCullah (Creative Commons)

Margaret Anne currently resides in her mother’s womb and the prognosis for her life is bleak. She is not expected to survive even a day outside of the womb.

Marshall and Mary Michael, Margaret Anne’s parents, were married less than a year when they discovered her. Surprised but excited, they began preparing for life with her in the family. At last the day came to discover her gender and give her a name. A big “gender reveal” party was prepared for that evening. Mary Michael had waited 15 years to name a little girl Margaret Anne. They waited in the examination room for the results.

When the doctor arrived she revealed more than Margaret Anne’s gender. She told them there was a problem.

Weeks later, after rounds of tests, the problem had a name—Trisomy 18. Of babies with t-18, half die in the womb or are  stillborn and the other half live only a few hours or days.

They were devastated. Reality sank in.

Most likely, the only time Mary Michael will carry Margaret Anne is in her womb.
Most likely, the only time Marshall will play with Margaret Anne is when she kicks in her mother’s belly.
Most likely, the only time they will talk with Margaret Anne is through skin and tissue.

However, instead of running from the problem, they chose to embrace every day with Margaret Anne—every moment, every kick, and every movement. They are determined to be the best parents they can be for whatever time they are given. They know life is precious. They are living like it is.

Margaret Anne’s story caused me to see how I forget that Life is Precious—
when I blow off my kids because I am busy,
when I treat others like objects,
when I waste the hours I am given,
when I live like life is not valuable.

Margaret Anne reminded me of what I know to be true. Life is precious.

(I wrote the following poem this week in response to Margaret Anne’s story.)


Life is Precious.

by Josh Irby

Life is precious.
from first heartbeat to last
the daily rhythm pulsing in each chest
life-blood empowering extremities
arms extending for an embrace
feet rushing towards mercy
the full self given for the good of another

Life is precious.
from first breath to last
two lungs filling in each chest
death-blood becoming viable
words forming and escaping
language leading to life
inhaling and repeating.

Life is precious.
from first thought to last
synapses firing with delight
ideas taking root in fertile soil
becoming a canopy of knowledge
memories of the past, images of the future
dreams born in the mind, settling in the heart

Life is precious.

Not simply every beating heart
But every heartbeat. (tweet that?)

How many heartbeats do I waste unnoticed, un-utilized, unimportant?
How many breaths do I breathe back out in hate?
How many thoughts are simply of my good, myself?

Each moment carries with it the full value of life—the blood, the breath, the thought.
Each life is fully valuable in the moment.

Life is valuable.
Value life.

Life is precious.

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