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December 24, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Last year on December 20, my mom died.

She basically died in my arms, which was unexpected. Actually, it was all rather a surprise.

I didn’t expect to be kneeling on a double bed propping her up while my sister stood beside the bed washing her because, even though she was sick as a dog and weak as a cat, she wanted to get up. 

I didn’t expect that even though I kept asking her if she wanted us to stop to let her catch her breath that she wouldn’t answer — because she had no more breath to catch. 

I didn’t expect that in the minutes that seemed like hours when I yelled: “Mom! Mom! MOM!!” and then “Dad! Dad! DAD!!” because she didn’t respond but just looked up with a fixed stare, that she had actually… died.

So that’s how it went. She was my mom, she got old, she had congestive heart failure, and she died.

Funny that I, who alone of her 11 children have none of my own — a lack I think she felt more keenly on my behalf than I did —  got to hold her up in my arms when she died, as she held me when I was a baby. Maybe that was a Christmas gift.

In any event, there’s no denying it was, as we Catholics say, a good death, and after a full life. Did I mention she raised 11 kids? She was at home, as she wanted. Her four sons visited her the Saturday before to play music for her 86th birthday. She had last rites the day before and again shortly after she died. 

Who could ask for more?  

Just as no one can tell you what it’s like to grow old, so no one can tell you how grief will take you, or so is my experience. Contrary to what I expected, I felt no serious pain of separation for months. It’s because I was older and her death was expected, I thought. Or, maybe it was denial. The stages, and all that.

Until, that is, that through “fate, chance, kings and desperate men” — in this case, short-staffed LifeSiteNews journalists — I found myself in San Francisco covering the preliminary criminal hearing of David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt of the Center for Medical Progress.

I’m a Canadian reporter, so this was far off my beat. More to the point, I hadn’t followed the case of the undercover journalists who exposed Planned Parenthood trafficking in aborted baby parts that closely because, frankly, just thinking about the horror they had the rare courage to unmask made me feel sick. 

So it was only when listening to testimony that I heard for the first time that organ harvesters in Planned Parenthood abortion facilities cut the hearts out of babies who are still alive, because researchers can’t use “a stopped heart,” as witness Dr. Theresa Deisher pointed out.

“The whole process is beneath the dignity of a civilized society, to cannibalize the bodies of aborted babies, to harvest from a living baby. They’re not even anesthetized. We don’t even do that to mice and rats,” she said.

And it was in San Francisco that I had the first deep, completely unexpected and unmistakable pang of missing my mom.

That’s strange, I thought. Why here? Why now? 

Then a friend kindly pointed out the obvious: that abortion, and its attendant evils — infanticide, organ harvesting, cutting the hearts out of living babies — is a full-on attack on motherhood.

Who wouldn’t want their mother at such a time?

And of course, Satan and his minions will try to destroy motherhood any way they can, because if that deepest human bond — between mother and child — is destroyed, where will we go? 

The womb is, in a sense, our common home: it’s where we all began. We may not all be mothers, but we all had mothers — because, wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles, God Himself had a Mother. The Word became flesh, and dwelt in Mary’s womb, until she gave birth and the angels sang. 

Now, it’s obvious that the diabolical assaults against life and motherhood, not to mention fatherhood, family, are accelerating. But as the Blessed Mother said when she appeared to St. Juan Diego, “Am I not here, who am your mother?”

The inextinguishable joy of Christmas in the midst of the darkness is that God so loved us that He gave Himself a mother so His Son could take on our human nature to save us from our sins, and that He gave us not only our mother “in the flesh”, but His own Mother, and Holy Mother Church. Who could ask for more?

And then, of course, there is the spiritual motherhood to which we are all called. 

As St. Ambrose explains: “Christ had only one mother in the flesh, but we all bring forth Christ in faith. Every soul received the Word of God if only it keeps chaste, remaining pure and free from sin, its modesty undefiled. The soul that succeeds in this proclaims the greatness of the Lord, just as Mary’s soul magnified the Lord and her spirit rejoiced in God her Savior.”