March 31, 2012 A.D.
What follows is a letter that was recently sent to the Caritas Extended Community in regards to Andrea’s latest condition. We know that many of you have asked for an update since the latest writing on Andrea, and so we are sharing this letter with you.
Dear Beloved Family,
You last heard from us on February 27, 2012 in regards to one of the young mothers of the community, Andrea Pipp. For the month after we contacted you, prayers were poured out for Andrea and her family from literally all corners of the earth. Both her family and the Community were humbled by the Masses, fasts, novenas, Adoration Hours, rosaries and prayers from the heart that so many peopled offered. Our gratitude is inexpressible, and truly those prayers have been heard because after we updated all of you, Andrea seemed to hit a plateau. There were no changes for the better or for the worse yet some days we did feel like she was more responsive, happier and more talkative than others. It was easier to have hope as we watched her continue to come to Rosary, smile when you asked how she was doing and see how great her appetite and attitude were. Yesterday, on March 29th, everything appeared to be as it had been.
Today is March 30, 2012 and Andrea has taken a significant change for the worse. Yesterday, she and her husband, Anthony went to an appointment, and Anthony noticed that Andrea seemed to be falling into deep sleeps, or passing out off and on. While at their appointment, Anthony called their nurse to explain what was happening and she thought it was normal progression for someone in Andrea’s state and told Anthony she would meet him at his house, so Anthony brought Andrea home. For the next few hours, Andrea slipped in and out of consciousness, and when she was conscious, she was mostly unresponsive, with only occasional non-verbal responses, but even with these she did not seem to have any purposeful movement and was labored in her breathing. It was decided that Andrea should be taken to the Emergency Room to confirm that this state was caused by the cancer and not some secondary condition that could possibly be treated to allow her to continue to battle the tumor. When they arrived in the ER, Andrea was immediately taken back for a CAT Scan. The results showed that the tumor was significantly larger and this was the reason for her unconsciousness. This pressure on the brain stem is causing her systems to begin to shut down. The doctor said that from what he could tell, she has lost vision in one of her eyes, and possibly the other. Naturally, Anthony and the family questioned the ER doctor what was to be expected; would Andrea live for days like this or weeks? His response was that if she made it weeks he’d be shocked. No, he was not a specialist in this area, but his response was in line with what we had already been told by the specialists. The baby is only 14 weeks, and though the baby is fine right now, it would not survive outside the womb so there is no action that can be taken medically speaking to save the baby. The doctor also said that she will not regain consciousness.
After several hours of being unconscious and unresponsive, as they were leaving the hospital to return home, Anthony asked Andrea if she was comfortable after lifting her into the car. Andrea, to his surprise after what the doctor just said, nodded “yes” and for the first time since arriving at the hospital and seemed to relax. Anthony believes it was because she knew she was going home. No one had been prepared for Andrea’s sudden decline. Our founder’s wife, Annette, went to speak to Anthony’s mother, Robin, who was at his house, to find out the details of the hospital visit and found her crying and upset. She told Annette that she had just been re-living the events of the day and she couldn’t take in everything that had happened in such a short time within these walls. Robin explained to Annette that she had been with Andrea earlier in the day and saw her doing things she hadn’t done for weeks, even in the last couple of months. A member of our parish church had been coming out to Caritas every Thursday to bring Andrea Holy Communion. On this Thursday, March 29, after she received the Eucharist, the two of them sat at the kitchen table and talked and Robin was amazed at the depth of conversation taking place between the two of them. Over the past month Andrea only communicated with people in one or two sentences at the most, and she did not often initiate conversation. Robin told Annette that she, herself hadn’t had a real conversation with Andrea for quite some time outside of these short basic sentences, yet, here Andrea was talking back and forth and sharing with the Eucharistic minister.
While sitting at the table, Andrea was looking at several pictures of her own little family, portraits of them taken on Christmas Eve, 2011. There were three different poses, and Robin told Annette that Andrea was studying each picture slowly and carefully, going back and forth between them, scanning each of the faces so dear to her: Anthony and their three children, Rebekah, Andrew and Jacob. Again, it was with greater attention than Robin has seen from Andrea in a long time.
Afterwards, Andrea got up and began walking around their living room with her cane, casting her gaze around the room, noticing different things that seemed to suddenly catch her interest. Andrea had stopped walking on her own several weeks ago, because of the loss of use of her left side. She needs assistance getting around her home, and a wheelchair for longer distances. Again, Robin was amazed to see Andrea, from her own initiative, walking with just her cane in her home. Her nearly one year old baby, Jacob, was crawling on the floor. Jacob has not been that responsive to Andrea for some time, perhaps because she is unable to hold him well with one arm, tight enough where he feels secure. Because Andrea has been unable to care for him, his needs are met by his dad, his grandparents and aunts. It has been sad to watch this progression. But today was different. Watching his mom walking around the room, perhaps sensing something different about her this day, little Jacob crawled to her and wanted her to pick him up and hold him. Though she couldn’t pick him up, Robin placed him in her lap, and they sat snuggled together for some time, Jacob content in his mother’s arms. Remembering back to this sweet moment earlier in the day broke Robin’s heart. How could Andrea suddenly be able to do things she hadn’t been able to do in weeks, and within a few short hours fall into unconsciousness, totally unexpected and without warning? But, perhaps this was a special grace God gave to Andrea because of the trial she would shortly be undergoing.
Once Anthony returned home with Andrea from the hospital, Andrea gave little signs of responsiveness throughout the night, a slight squeeze of her husband’s hand, a slight nod as he laid her in their bed after asking if she was comfortable. The next morning, Anthony explained to his children Rebekah-4, Andrew-3, and Jacob-11 months, who is in his own little world of being a baby, that their mommy is very sick and that they should go speak to her because she may not be able to hear them later on. He brought them into Andrea’s room where they crawled in bed beside her, giving kisses and saying I love you’s. Again, there was a flicker of recognition and movement in Andrea that gave Anthony the impression that she knew they were there and could hear them.
When asked this morning how Andrea was, Anthony said that she had responded to him this morning, actually saying ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ Mary, Andrea’s mother, also asked Andrea a question and she nodded ‘yes.’ So, she is not completely unconscious right now, but seems to lapse back into it. These signs show that she can at least sometimes hear us. When we went to see Andrea today, upon entering their home, the family was gathered in the living room and Fr. Anthony Weiss from Our Lady of the Valley Church was present. Several of us along with our founder’s wife, Annette, and his daughter, with Andrea’s family went into her bedroom. As we all knelt around the bed, and Anthony climbed onto the bed beside Andrea with his children, Rebekah, Andrew and Jacob, Father Weiss gave Andrea the Last Rites/Anointing of the Sick, with the Apostolic Pardon. With this blessing, Andrea is in as pure a state of grace as possible, and if death were to come, hope of Heaven is waiting. He also prayed a beautiful prayer over the baby in Andrea’s womb. We feel so blessed that Father came in this time of need immediately. Though Andrea seemed completely unconscious by all appearances, just as Father Weiss began she suddenly pulled the sheets back and beautifully grasped her rosary in her right hand. She made the Sign of the Cross both times Father’s blessing called for it. Incredible. Annette went to Andrea afterwards to hold her hand and let her know that she had contacted Paolo and Marija and that Marija would be presenting her to Our Lady today, March 30, 2012, at Apparition Time. Caritas’ founder has been away for the week, but was in close contact with everyone by phone.
It was, in fact, our founder who had asked us to call a priest to see if he could baptize Anthony and Andrea’s baby. Our founder was not aware that just this past week an announcement was made by the Vatican that a new blessing had been approved for babies while they are still in their mother’s womb. This news was released only five days ago on the Feast of the Annunciation, March 25, 2012. Although the prayer has not been released yet, it still was a comfort to know this, especially in light of Our Lady’s message given to Marija on this day in which She said:
Anthony and Andrea’s family, as well as the Community, are continuing to have hope. It is significant that this is taking place right now, just days before entering into Holy Week. “This is a time of your trial,” Our Lady just said. The cross that this family is carrying right now seems too heavy for all involved especially being so young with a husband and three little children. But our crosses are chosen for us with the intention of bringing us not just to Calvary, but to our Resurrection. Your prayers are needed greatly for this intention and we know that many of you have kept Andrea daily in your prayers and masses. We pray and hope for God’s Will that if He chooses to grant this miracle that the prayer will be there in exchange of it, but we also know that as Our Lady’s children we must want God’s Perfect Will to be fulfilled through this.
In remembering the story from Poem of the Man-God Volume 5, Martha and Mary sat waiting at Lazarus’ bedside as he was dying. Jesus loved this family with a special love, yet He asked them to have hope beyond hope. It seemed too much to ask of them. The sisters waited, wept, prayed, and begged for Jesus to come…immediately. But He waited. And though Martha caved into her fears, and hurts, and her heart and sent for Jesus, Mary purified her great love for Christ by believing beyond belief even through her tears and temptations, and had confidence in the miracle. We know Andrea is going to experience a resurrection in just a short time from now, through either a healing or through entering eternal life in Heaven. Our hope and prayer continues to be for God’s Will.
Anthony, Andrea’s parents and their families have seen enough indications from Andrea that they believe she can hear everything around her, at least for the time being. If you would like to send a word of encouragement to Anthony and Andrea, we know it would be a consolation to them both as they carry this cross towards their Calvary. We will make sure each and every one of them is read to Andrea. We need you and count on you to help hold up all of our arms right now as Aaron did for Moses. We especially ask this of you on behalf of Anthony, who has been Andrea’s St. Joseph all the way through, along with their families and the Community.
Love and Prayers as We Enter Holy Week,
On behalf of the Community of Caritas