Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Rest in peace, sweet Henry

Oh, baby boy…. How our hearts ache tonight. How we miss you and weep for your family.

Henry, precious one, your life was all about redemption, from beginning to end.

We watched as Carla, your mommy, found you in a picture and fell in love, and as she took that leap of faith and flew across the ocean to claim you from a cold and lonely orphanage without hope, bringing you to a home overflowing with warmth and life and love.

Such a strong boy, a fighter! For over a year, through facebook, blogs, and email, we followed your surgeries, we rejoiced at your recoveries, we celebrated when you turned two with your family, and we couldn't wait to watch you grow bigger and stronger, turning into a young man one day, the whole world at your feet!

And you got through the "big" (but necessary) surgery we'd all been praying about, besting Hurricane Sandy herself, and finally coming home after three long weeks away, but never away from your beloved mother, who never left your side.

We worried last week when you had an unexpected setback, a massive infection in your tiny body, a complication of the surgery. More surgery and lots of hope followed. There were pain-free moments yesterday, and deep, connected gazes of affection between mother and child. Then today, your mommy announced that you crashed, nearly died, and then came back to her and to us. But you crashed a second time and then we heard no word for long, torturous minutes, which turned to an hour, and more. Silence from your mommy was ominous. We all prayed and hoped against hope, but then saw this, from your mommy's friend, posted on her facebook wall:
Friends. At Carla's request I'm telling you all that our friend and brother Henry has gone to be with Jesus, where there is no more pain, where every tear will be wiped away, where he will walk tall and straight forever! Pray for his suffering family.
The grief. Unspeakable sorrow at having lost you, and anguish at the thought of your mommy, and the crucible she must be enduring. Like Mary our heavenly Mother, bearing the crushing weight of the loss of a precious, innocent son. Silent prayers that Mary would carry Carla through….

So many communities praying, crying, comforting each other, worrying about your mommy and your whole family. The Catholic bloggers, the Reece's Rainbow community, facebook friends, your in-real-life community. Helpless and in shock. So many prayers ascending.

As I said at the start, your whole life, little Henry, was about redemption. You had been redeemed from the orphanage by your mother, and in turn you redeemed so many other children who didn't have a chance before Carla introduced us to you and to Reece's Rainbow. You and Carla laid the foundation. You and Carla are the primary reason I am an advocate for orphans today. You and Carla are the reason that Malcolm has found a family and will be leaving the dreary, gray walls of an institution. You and Carla are the reason that Nicholas has a family coming for him, and little Nico as well, and the reason that Paul is home and the reason that Sabrina will be home soon. And so many others. Your mommy, through her love for you, started a domino effect of love and redemption, which is growing exponentially.

Sweet Henry, you have been used by our Lord to be the instrument of redemption for many, and for countless children to come. Yours was a life well lived. And through your baptism and incorporation into the Mystical Body of Christ, you yourself have been redeemed for all eternity.


Carla had big dreams for her Henry -- that he would be free of pain, and that he would walk and dance and run! That he would be a faithful disciple of Christ Jesus, becoming a pure reflection of our Lord to all who encountered him, and that he would become a great saint, enter into Heaven, and dwell in the House of the Lord forever!

All these dreams of his loving mother have been realized tonight.

Carla, my friend, your work as Henry's mother is now complete -- a perfect success. He is now exactly who he was made to be. Although your work as his mother is done, his work as a powerful and glorious intercessor before the Throne of God has only just begun.


Rest peacefully, powerfully, blissfully in the glory of the Heart of the Holy Trinity, dear Henry. You are free now, and perfected in the Love that you first learned in the arms of your mother.

Little Saint Henry, now and always, pray for us!

And when this mortal hath put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? … But thanks be to God, who hath given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. -- 1 Corinthians 15


These now-priceless photos, taken just weeks ago, courtesy of 5 Boys + 1 Girl = 6 Photography


  1. Beautiful, Leila.

    Sweet Henry, we will miss you.

  2. I saw your comments to Henry's mother come up in my news feed today and I knew I needed to pray. I'm so saddened for his family. This was a beautiful tribute.

  3. Beautiful. Crying again. We love you Henry and Carla. You led us to our boy too.

  4. He shall not grow old
    As we that are left grow old.
    Age shall not weary him
    Nor the years condemn.
    At the going down of sun and in the morning
    We shall remember him.

    -Lawrence Binyon

    (And on my brother's holy card from his funeral.)

  5. Beautiful, Leila. What a wonderful testimony for two people that have touched so many lives.

    Truly indeed, St Henry, pray for us!

  6. Without you and Carla, we would not be bringing Gus home soon.

  7. Oh no! I had no idea, I knew he had gone through surgery but I thought everything would go just fine. This is not how it was supposed to go, he had found a family that loved him... I'm so sorry, praying for everyone involved.

  8. Had to get out of bed at 4 AM to read your blog. I knew you'd make me feel better. I can't believe that Carla and Mr. Henry were the ones who introduced you to Reese's Rainbow. Oh my goodness. So many blessings. I was crying last night and my husband said "You were lucky that you got to know a Saint." We can't even imagine what good Mr. H has done.

  9. I know Henry is laughing and playing right now in God's arms. Mary herself must have met him at the door to heaven and swept Henry up into her arms and said, "You are my little boy now. You have two Mommy's who love you."


  10. Crying, such a beautiful post in honor and memory of such a beautiful boy and his mom.
    I loved following Henry's journey and seeing his sweet face alight with joy.

  11. This is beautiful, Leila. I'm still reeling from the news.

  12. Indeed Carla and Henry have touched so many people through their journey and God's redemptive plan for this perfect boy. Thank you for sharing, Thank your Carla for being the SHINING EXAMPLE of a Godly woman, and Thank you Henry for your brave flight and life here on earth. Saints in heaven open their arms to welcome you into the Kindgom of our Mighty Lord.

  13. Bless you, Leila. RIP little boy.

  14. Bless you, Leila. RIP little boy.

  15. Beautiful tribute! Thank you.

    And through my tears I'm remembering thanks to Carla's bravery that it's "Till we meet again"

  16. This is so beautiful.

    Thank you for sharing your journey with Henry, Carla. We are all better people for having witnessed it.

  17. Thank you Leila for this beautiful tribute. God bless their family.

  18. God bless this sweet family who now have their own Saint in Heaven rooting for them!

  19. So beautiful, Leila!

  20. This has shaken me to the core. For me, Henry is the precious boy rolling on the floor of the cry room of our church last winter as I watched the love of his Mama and family overpouring on him. I confess, I was a little distracted by this amazing family. Watching in awe at the love they had and the sweet baby Henry that was their youngest boy. I had followed Carla's blog as she journeyed to bring Henry home, so I knew the minute I saw them that it was THEE Henry I had grown to love! I have been forever blessed by meeting Henry! His passing has touched me deeply. The tears have not stopped since yesterday.
    I will be praying this Advent for Carla and her family, that Jesus would bring healing and joy back into their lives, knowing that Henry is spending his Christmas with The Birthday Boy.

  21. Darling boy, your life reached so many. We all love you. Carla, you will never know how many lives he touched through your blog and through this community. This beautiful boy has extended his reach far beyond what anyone might see as his "limits."

    I weep for you and pray for Christ's peace to be with you now and always.

  22. beautiful leila. Such a sorrowful celebration.

  23. Beautiful Leila. I was at a funeral for a girl born with special needs on Saturday and there was poem shared there. I thought it was it is:

    When God calls children to dwell with Him above,
    we mortals sometime question the wisdom of His love.
    Perhaps God tires of calling the aged to His fold,
    so He picks a rosebud before it can grow old.
    God knows how much we need them and so He takes but few
    to make the land of Heaven more beautiful to view,
    beliving this is difficult, still somehow we must try.
    The saddest word mankind knows will always be "Goodbye."
    So when a child departs, we who are left behind
    must realize God loves children.
    Angels are hard to find.

  24. I am so filled with sadness and my heart is breaking for his family. But it is so wonderful to know that he was able to know the love of a family. Heaven is the richer for it today. Beautiful post Leila.

  25. Thank you for this--

  26. Because of Carla's example, so many other brave women have come to claim their children from orphanages. Many, many prayers for Carla and her family in this time.

  27. Very beautiful, Leila. The loss of a child is the most devestating thing any mother could imagine, but you helped put it into the perspective of the eternal. And that's the only way we can bear some things in this life, by keeping our eyes on Jesus, and the eternal picture. Our prayers are with Carla and her family. God bless! _Laura Lewis

  28. Great now I"m crying all over again. Thank you, Leila. This was beautiful. Precious Henry. You led us to our next child, too, we just haven't taken that next step yet.

  29. Leila, this is beautiful. Thank-you for sharing Carla and Henry with us, so many lives are better off because of Henry.

  30. I have never met Henry or Carla, but after I heard the news I read her blog. Words cannot express how her love for this beautiful boy have changed me. How it is truly a gift to mother, and how perfect her love for Henry was. So beautiful. Prayers going up for her over here. I know Henry is now praying for us all from heaven.

  31. Oh, my goodness... Just couldn't stop the tears as I read this beautiful post. Such a BEAUTIFUL life! May little Henry rest in the PEACE and JOY of our Lord's presence for all eternity!! May his loving family know the warmth and comfort of so many prayers and the nearness of our Lord and our Lady in a special way in the days ahead.

  32. Thank you for writing such a beautiful tribute. Carla is an amazing woman. She has touched me to the core. Pray for us, Henry!

    Sarah A.


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