I was at daily mass the other day at my local parish, and from across the church saw a woman I’ve distantly known for years with her handicapped son, who is the same age as one of my younger sisters – an older teen now. His exact disability is unknown, but upon seeing him for the first time in many many years, his complete and pure innocence was so very apparent. He looked around with such child-like wonder, and toddled behind his mother with ease as she held his hand, pulling him up to and back away from the communion rail with her. This mother’s love and gentleness she has for her son is so real, it shone through her eyes as she lead him back to their pew, despite her focus and her effort. How beautiful, I thought. This mother who has so many other children to care for, so much in life to be fretting and worried over (as most do), yet she has so much kindness and love to give to her handicapped son, who will never make it past the mental age of reason. What a blessing, I thought. He will forever remain untainted by sin. The corruptions of this earthly life will never affect him the way they do the rest of us, he will never have to suffer the pains the rest of us have to after this life and before we reach heaven. And one day, after Our Lord welcomes this mother into heaven, she will one day welcome her baby boy there, too, and he won’t be handicapped, he will be the whole self that God intended him to be for all eternity. And yet, his purity will not have changed, his mother will know him by this same beauty she loved in this world. But her earthly crosses (even though done in complete love) will have been worth every thorn, because they will both be together for all eternity, complete and whole versions of themselves as God intended. Her love and self-sacrifice may very well be what gets her entire family to heaven – and what a beautiful reward she will have when her now handicapped son reaches her, healed and whole, as the man Our Lord created him to be.