Laura Kelly Fanucci ’03 never planned to earn a Master of Divinity degree and publish resources about living out one’s faith. With a double-major in French and art history, she thought she would earn a Ph.D. and then teach.
She never planned to be a blogger. It all started small and organically when she was a new mom operating on a few hours’ sleep each night.
And she never planned to have anything profound to say about grief. But that was before an unexpected loss led her to find resilience and meaning in her faith.
“It’s funny sometimes, to look back and see how things have come to the point where they are, and it’s nothing like what you would have expected,” Fanucci says.
In 2015, as a mom who had welcomed three boys and suffered a miscarriage, she was pregnant with twin daughters. Early in her pregnancy, she and her husband, Franco Fanucci ’03, learned about a rare condition among identical-twin pregnancies called twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome. One twin “steals” blood from another and gets too much, while the other doesn’t get enough. Despite months of hospital visits and high-risk prenatal care, at 24 weeks the doctors performed an in-utero laser surgery to try to sever the connected blood vessels.
“You freak yourself out about it at 3 o’clock in the morning,” Fanucci says, “but these perinatologists do this surgery all the time and you never really think you yourself are going to be their worst-case scenario. So you just try to hang on to your faith.”
There were complications mid-surgery, which was discontinued before the blood vessels were totally severed. The doctors delivered both girls by emergency C-section that night.
“Maggie’s heart gave out the next morning after the delivery,” Fanucci recalls. “Franco and I made the decision to take her off life support so we could hold her. She died that day.”
The remaining twin had suffered a massive brain hemorrhage. The day after Maggie died, Fanucci and her husband had to make the same decision to take Abby off life-support.
“At that point,” Fanucci says, “you’re thinking, ‘How can this be my life? How can God ask us to do this two days in a row?’”
But the minute she held Abby skin-to-skin, in her arms, knowing that she was dying, Fanucci describes being filled with the greatest joy of her entire life.
“After 45 minutes, I handed her to my husband and the exact same thing happened to him. It lasted that whole day as we held her. I was convinced of God and what heaven must be like—this sacred presence that I was allowed to be in and with, the most real thing I have ever experienced.”
In between the desolation and the quotidian responsibilities that followed, Fanucci wrote and blogged—“for myself, because I needed to,” she says. “We came home and still had three kids who needed school lunches and permission slips signed. As a family, we had to keep going, even after what happened. So we learned to keep asking, ‘What are we called to now, today?’”
Fanucci’s blog posts went viral and she went on to write about grief. In 2017, she wrote a Scripture study called Grief: Finding Hope in Sorrow. In addition, she and her husband are co-authoring Grieving Together: A Couple's Journey through Miscarriage which is forthcoming this fall. And she and her family have continued to move ahead, guided by their faith. In the summer of 2017, they welcomed a fourth child, a healthy baby boy.
“No matter what, we are called to faith, to find love and joy in each day, or at least to try and to keep trying,” Fanucci says. “You just never know where your life is going to take you. But you know you are always loved and always held.”
To learn more about Laura Kelly Fanucci’s blog, which explores spirituality and parenting, please visit motheringspirit.com.