She's So Beautiful: Susan Anne Catherine Torres

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Children are a gift from the Lord

They are a reward from Him.

Psalm 127



“Holding Daddy’s Hand”

Torres_Holding_Daddy's_Hand.jpg

Susan Anne Catherine Torres

Isn’t she beautiful? Truly, beauty from ashes. . .

She’s got a fight ahead of her — the hospital says she’ll be in the NICU for the next three months until her original due date — but the Washington Post is reporting that wee little Susan Anne is “vigorous” and doing well!

There is a vignette from this story that will endure for me — it is Jason’s description of his last conversation with Susan before she collapsed. That evening, Jason had taken Susan to the emergency room because she didn’t feel well. After she was discharged and sent home, Jason propped Susan up in bed and she said she was hungry. So he fixed her a steak and cheese sandwich.

When Jason brought the sandwich to Susan she said, “I’m sorry I’m so much trouble.”

And he replied: “No problem, this is what husbands do.”

Then, she slumped over and stopped breathing.

This is what husbands do. We reflexively describe this as “love.” But it is more than that.

It is Duty and Honor. Making Susan the sandwich was Jason honoring his wife. Duty was what Jason did when Susan “died,” as he sat a lonely vigil by her bedside for three long months in the hospital, fighting for the life of their unborn daughter. . .

The end of the story, Susan’s death, is not what we would wish. But that one moment between the two of them — one of them making a sandwich; the other receiving the gift with gracious humility — speaks volumes of the giving and receiving that undergirds a loving marriage. One moment . . . simple, ordinary, yet beautiful.

The spirit of our age is one of a tally sheet, who did what for whom how many times. In their love story, caring for one another, Jason and Susan demonstrated a better way.

***

Obviously Susan Anne’s care will be expensive, so if you are able, please stop by the Torres web site and contribute.

But more importantly, this is a baby who was carried through the power of love, and sustained and delivered by the power of prayer. . . let us all remember Jason Torres in the difficult days ahead, after the publicity dies down and he works to raise two children without their mother.

After the jump, the statement Justin (Jason’s brother) read at the press conference on Wednesday:

As you know, at 8:18 a.m. on Tuesday, Susan Anne Catherine Torres was delivered by caesarean section at Virginia Hospital Center. This morning, she continues to do well in the NICU unit here at the hospital.

Earlier this morning, after a brief goodbye with her husband, parents, and other family members, and after receiving the last sacraments of the Catholic Church, Susan Michelle Rollin Torres passed away after the machines which sustained her life for the past 12 weeks were turned off at my brother’s request. She was 26 years old.

This is obviously a bittersweet time for our family. We are overjoyed at the birth of Baby Susan and deeply grieved at the loss of her mother. From the beginning, we knew that two things would get us through to the baby’s birth: God’s providence and Susan’s determination. Susan was always the toughest person in that ICU room. Her passing is a testament to the truth that human life is a gift from God and that children are always to be fought for, even if life requires-as it did of Susan-the last full measure of devotion.

We have many people to thank, starting with the doctors, staff, and most especially the nurses at Virginia Hospital Center. You have been innovative, flexible, and determined on our behalf, and walked every step of this journey with us. We are deeply grateful.

We also must thank the many friends and family members who gave us their time, energy, and shoulders to lean on over the past 12 weeks. Our debt to you is lifelong.

Finally, on behalf of my brother I wish to thank the many thousands of people who have taken this story to heart, donated to the Susan M. Torres Fund, and most especially, sent us their prayers and best wishes. This family has literally been lifted up in prayer, and I can never express adequately our gratitude for the prayers and support we have received from people all over the globe. We could not have made it through this ordeal without you, and on behalf of my brother, my family, and the Rollin family, I wish to thank you and ask your continued prayers for the newest member of our family.

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12 Responses

  1. Bart Nielsen says:

    So many features of this story point to the beauty and sanctity of life, and of God’s design for marriage and family life. Thank you for these touching posts.

  2. Michele says:

    Oh Charmaine, you have so beautifully, and so perfectly, captured a lesson from the Torres family story. Their example of humbly serving and graciously receiving reminds us of true love and ministry in marriage. The Lord, in His perfect wisdom, never lets anything go to waste.

    Thank you for supporting this wonderful family.

  3. askrom says:

    Just curious:

    I don’t know much about this case, but how is this family’s moral situation different from the Schiavo family’s moral situation? Why wasn’t there a campaign to prevent Mr. Torres from ordering his wife taken off of life support? Why did nobody stand up to condemn it, or to prevent it?

    Did she leave a living will? Did she not have family who objected? Was her brain death in 100% certifiably worse shape than Mrs. Schiavo’s?

    This may seem like a loaded question, but it is not. It is an honest question and I would love to get answers not second guessing about my motivations. Thanks.

  4. askrom says:

    I kind of agree with Bart. It’s fortunate for all married couples that the decisions made within the sanctity of the Torres marriage were respected by the state and, apparently, by the public at large.

  5. charmaine says:

    Askrom: here’s my understanding of Susan’ medical condition, based on what has been reported (i.e. no additional information). Susan’s brain death was caused by a cancerous tumor and the cancer then spread throughout her body. In fact, the big concern was that the cancer might invade the placenta and also attack the baby. So there was complete consensus, medically and ethically, on the fact that she was, in fact, dead. If anything, it was difficult to sustain her “life” — body functions — long enough to get the baby to viability. That was a miracle.

    So it was very different, medically, from the Terri Schiavo situation.

    The other point that always moved me about the situation with Susan was that both her husband and her parents were in complete agreement about the decisions they made for her care and for the baby. I think that is a key point. There was no disagreement.

    The only critics I have heard have been those who have questioned spending the money for her care. I don’t have time right now to get into the “how much is one life worth” question, but I would add that, from a cold-blooded utilitarian perspective, that even beyond the life of this one baby, any time you push the boundaries of medical science, in the end, a lot of people may eventually benefit.

  6. Tracy says:

    Also, to answer askrom, life support, meaning breathing and heart machines, are considered “extraordinary means” by which to keep a person alive. A feeding tube is not. Terri Schiavo was breathing on her own.

    Charmaine, I love your blog and share many, many similar views. Also live in NoVA. So thanks for all the insight.

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  9. askrom says:

    I guess I don’t understand the difference between a machine that feeds you nutrients and a machine that supplies you oxygen. It seems superficial, really. In both cases, the person would have been totally helpless without technology that didn’t exist 100 years ago, technology that most people in the world still can’t get today. Both seem pretty extraordinary to me. Why is one extraordinary and the other not? Because one has more moving parts than the other? Because the gastrointestinal system isn’t as important as the cardiovascular system?

    And morally, doesn’t the husband ALWAYS have superior rights over the fate of his wife than the wife’s parents have? If you count the parent’s views over those of the husbands, does that not undermine the very meaning of marriage itself? I’m serious about that — my marriage is everything to me, and part of that committment is our mutual vow to entrust each other fully and ultimately with our fate. For anyone, the state, our parents, the public, to interfere would be unthinkable.

    I think the Schiavo protester folks are being selectively outraged. They really should be mad about every pulled plug, every death that could have been avoided even for one minute… or they should mind their own business. The only mystery here, to me, is why the Schiavo protesters aren’t vilifying Mrs. Torres’s husband AND her parents.

    You mentioned the expense to save the child’s life… I don’t see how anyone could have a problem with that. We save who we can, and we let them go when their time here is clearly through. It’s a simple philosophy, and pretty conservative if you think about it. It’s how mankind has always lived. The last rites of the Catholic Church are evidence that religious people can recognize, even before a loved one’s death, that death is coming soon and that we all should prepare for it, not struggle to thwart it when it’s too late.

    Pope John Paul II, by the way, in his final days, requested to remain in his Vatican apartment instead of going to the hospital where they had equipment that could clearly have supported his life longer. This was apparently by his own request.

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  12. askrom says:

    Also, I am aware of breathing and heart machines that prolong the lives of people who are quite conscious and lucid. So the breathing and heart machine argument isn’t really it, I guess.

    I think the difference is supposed to come down to whether or not the patient has any cognitive brain function, or any prospect of recovering those functions. That’s supposed to be the crux, right? If the brain is dead, then we can pull the plug without sinning? Is that it?

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