This year, thousands of our military members will not be home with their loved ones for Christmas. They have a strong understanding of duty, honor, and country. They don’t begrudge us our time with our families because they are the ones keeping us safe so we CAN celebrate with them at this time of year. We thank them from the bottom of our hearts and pray for their safety and for their families. It is with great respect and thanks that my family will be together this Christmas, my nephew granted some leave during this season from his military training, and my own son not scheduled to leave for his basic training for another two weeks.
But today I want to talk about a different kind of hero. I work with them every day.
No, I’m not talking about doctors or nurses, though they most certainly deserve the title of hero as well.
I am talking about the parents and family of our most critically ill babies and children, suffering in hospitals all over the world instead of gathering around a warm fire, delicious food, and twinkling lights on a Christmas tree. Some children will recover and eventually go home to spend future Christmases in their loving homes, more grateful than most families for having spent a past Christmas scared and hurting.
Some families will not get to take their child home and their future Christmases will be forever marred by the indescribable pain of loss.
Today, my heart and prayers are with a specific family who sit vigil at their beautiful son’s bedside waiting for the Lord to call him home. I cannot write this without shedding tears of sorrow for the pain they are suffering right now. Yet through it all, they hold tight to each other in love and support. They allow us to share in their grief, embracing strangers as family. I cannot imagine the hell it must be for someone to give all control over to others, knowing that the outcome will not be a happy one.
What to do you say to friends or family that you know going through such sorrow? It’s impossible to know any words that will take their pain away.
I spent my night trying to give comfort where I could, knowing that, while it was appreciated, it was far too little…I could not give them what their hearts desired.
And so I pray. I ask the Lord to please give the family the release they need or please give them a miracle that will make this Christmas memorable for the best reasons. I don’t know what God’s plan is for this family, or anyone, but I trust he knows just how much we can all handle and that he will give this family just the right amount of time with their precious, precious boy.
So, as you all sit down to your holiday meals this year, put aside petty bickering that might be a part of your family traditions. Don’t you dare complain about a gift not being exactly what you asked for. Don’t indulge yourself into oblivion without remembering those who will not do anything but sit at their dying child’s bedside in a strange, cold place asking for nothing and everything, knowing that Christmas will never be the same again.
Say a prayer for our troops, but also say a prayer for these other heroes. Remember them today and everyday. If you know someone personally that is going through this, be there for them. No words are necessary. Knowing you are there is enough. And as time goes on, stay by their side and let them talk of their child to you as much or as little as they want. Allow them the memories and the gift of sharing.
Christmas is about love and the gift of life. We all will do better to remember that and return to times when just being together as a family and celebrating God’s gift of His son to us was the most important thing about this season.