Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night.
I think about her. I think about him.
I think about what it felt to hold his sweet hands the last time. To miss his hugs at night. To kiss his sweat, cherub like cheeks after running in the yard. To hear him banging his cars around on the kitchen floor making loud crashing noises. To feel him slip through time and space to the other side.
I think, “How does she breathe? How does she get up in the morning? How does she go on? And this thought bobs its head ever so often, “How does she not get angry at Jesus…to the point of giving the bird to heaven?”
Her name is Gillian, she is my friend,she is a mother,and wife. I like to think of her as a hero.
She has endured my greatest fear. Every mother’s greatest fear.
Gillian lost her dear son Joseph right at his 4th birthday in 2008 to a battle with brain cancer.
I went to his funeral 3 years ago on a hot, humid August day that was almost as sweltering as the pain and anguish in that church where the service was held. Hundreds gathered to bid adieu to a four year old whose life had abruptly interrupted. We all gathered between the four walls of Christ Community church to attend to the funeral of a four year old. Yes, read that line again. And again. It will never read well, or smoothly, or without your mind failing to compute it without developing some big ulcer in your stomach.
Because it’s an event no one should have to experience, especially two parents in their prime years—their thirties…years when we are supposed to be smiling,laughing,bbq-ing, going on trips to the beach, looking forward to our futures …finally get comfortable in our own skin. But we live in a fragmented world that was shattered into brokenness and compunction many, many years ago so this experience was just a remnant of the puzzle of the perfect life that shattered voluminous years ago in a garden half way across the world.
So here I sit with my laptop in my hands..diggin’ and burying words…and diggin’ and burying some more words..trying get something to resurface that would capture what walls were torn down and built back up on that day a four year olds’ life was celebrated. The wall of faith was torn down watching a four year old’s coffin stare back at you as if it were the embodiment of injustice. And the walls of faith were built back up even stronger knowing that God was in control. That this life is so not it. That we are a vapor. That we are souls with bodies,not bodies with souls as C.S. Lewis so eloquently points out. That life is one redeeming story in rewind.
It doesn’t negate the pain or anger when these kinds of tragedies arise. But it does heal the gaping wound with the ointment of hope that Jesus says we will meet again, that Gillian will hug and chase Joseoh around and he will tell her how what a great mama she was. This life is a pit stop to the real thing. Often a very excruciating and surreal pit stop.
But that’s not what that post is about. At least not today.
This post is about Joseph. This post is about children sitting in a hospital room hooked up to IV’s with doctors poking and prodding on them as they try to watch Elmo. It’s about childhood, a time that seems eternal and blissful merging with the brutal reality that life is harsh, short and often unfair this side of heaven.
It’s about helping these little souls. It’s about easing their pain. Lengthening their lives, maybe saving their lives.
I think we all whether Christians or not get overwhelmed by the heartbreak in this world..this unjust spin around the sun that we are on. Particularly when pain knocks on the door of a child when it seems it should have visited the elderly lady down the street that is 109. It’s just not right,not fair at best, cruel at worst.
So, one thing I am going to start doing each week is to provide you and I with one or more things we all can easily do to help show the love of God. I think we all want to help..we just get overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. So I am going to do my durndest to lay some options in your lap each week. Because at the end of the day all hearts respond to love. All.
I have been talking with Gillian, Joseph’s mama, and a friend of mine about what I could do and I decided that I would blog about the race being done in his honor this April, a race done to raise money to fund research for childhood cancer. Did you know childhood cancer is the least funded cancer out of all of them? Did you know that childhood cancer is the number one disease killer among children?
I don’t say this to guilt you, but rather make you feel responsible. To whom much has been given much is expected.
So here’s the scoop. No child should have to have their world of cartoons and make believe interrupted by the ugly voice of cancer. For every Joseph there are more. Thousands of more. Millions of more.
Here’s the one thing you can do to help change the life of one, possibly a multitide.
PLEASE sign up if you are in Nashville, or pass this along to someone you know lives in Nashville. OR donate if you can. Or help if you are a local business. Or say a prayer for this family and the family of others as they fight a battle that would wear down the stoutest of soldiers. Anything you can do is an act of love. And love is our highest calling. Read your bible if you don’t believe me
We all can do one thing. Each day. For one person. One effort at a time.
Apathy is what makes this world so grim. Reject it. Pull out your love muscle and use it.
After all, we are the most alive that we can be when we are loving others. Even if those others are four year olds running around heaven with gobs of ice cream on their face and huggin’ their mamas in their dreams.
Whatever it is you today, remember that we can’t do it all, but we can do one thing.
May this race be your one thing…