Dear Parent of a Sick Child {letter #4}

Dear Parent of a Sick Child,

You are lonely, aren’t you?  You have spent many days surrounded by people who care, but there are moments when you feel like the loneliest person on Earth. Although you have had your share of visitors, kind words, gentle sentiments of encouragement through the written word, and comforting touches, you still feel like a small island in this vast ocean of life.

You continue to walk around…

an isolated warrior…

a weary soldier…

a desperate mother…

a lion-hearted father…

in a battle not of your own making.

You hear about and see all moms and dads with their babies enjoying the sun of the summer, traversing through the seasons, and experiencing a life enriched with joy, milestones, and celebrations.  Yet, there you sit.

Waiting.

Waiting hand-in-hand with your child who has barely been awake the past few days.

You visualize her running in the sun of the summer.  You think about the future, and what is to come.  You dream of the milestones, the intricate details of development, and the celebrations you have been able to plan.

You beg for a life beyond all of this.

You yearn for a life farther away from sickness.

You desire never to visit this place again.

You stare at her.  You wonder, “Will she ever wake up again?  Will she ever experience a life outside of these sterile walls, and the beeps of these machines?”  In these moments, your own vision of parenthood, and your dreams of it, seem to evaporate.

You think, “Will I ever wake up to MY child… my child before this illness?  Will I ever see her energy, her enthusiasm for life, and her humor again?  Will this silence ever stop?  Where is our life…our life before all of this?”

Dear Parent of a Sick Child,

Your continual stance in the deep hours of the night mean so much to your sick child.  Your gentle grasp, your words of comfort, and your whispering of hope for life beyond this affliction, carry weight.

All of these things have a gravity of their own.  They are not measured in the physical lineage of this world.  Instead, they are mounted upon that seemingly invisible wave of fortitude that courses through your body.

You have the moxie to show this wayward season in your life that it is just that…a season…a temporary stay…a time that will not define your child, your parenthood, and your character.

With each glimpse of life outside of illness, you are anchoring your child and your own parenting experience to the hope of the future.

Hang on to that anchor.

Throw it onto land.

Proclaim it.

Set your vision on the shore of healing, and the life that is in sight.

Dear Parent of a Sick Child,

You are lonely, aren’t you?  You wonder about life beyond this sickness.  You remember those precious moments before this sadness entered your life.  You cherish with anticipation the visions of your child playing in the wonders of the world, dancing in the rain, experiencing a first crush, crying over a broken heart, going on a first date, graduating from school, and eventually, marrying the one who stole her heart.

You dream of your child launching herself into this world so that it can catch a bit of her radiance.

To be honest, I do not know what you are going through.  My children…my babies…are all seemingly healthy.  I know this can turn on a dime. From my own experience, I have learned that life is fragile.  One day, things seem okay.  The next, you are side-swiped by a diagnosis.

I hope, and pray, and give my own energy to the promise that my children will never experience the life-altering, nearly fatal, and forever-changing illness that I survived as a child.

I do not write from a point of complete understanding of what you are going through.  Instead, I simply write from the vision of what my parents must have felt while watching me fight for life during the eleventh year of my walk on this Earth.  I also write from the words that have come from their own mouths, and the mouths of observers when escaping back to that fateful time in my own life.

I write letters in retrospect.  I write in remembrance of their bravery, their quiet, yet strong presence, and their gentle proclamations that I would beat the hostile intruder that made its way to my life.

Dear Parent of a Sick Child,

I know you feel lonely.  I know you get tired of seeing the blessings of life that are happening around you.  You must get angry.  You must feel a twinge of jealousy.

You cry out to God in your anger, and in your weakness.

Please know that while you are feeling helpless, and maybe even insignificant, in this big world of unknowns, your presence is perhaps the largest and most beautiful sight in your sick child’s eyes.  Your own sense of loneliness is not seen by your child.

Instead, your nearness to the illness, and your child, has helped to underwrite the story of hope, and the melody of compassion that your child hears, and may even dance to in the future.

Continue to be there.  Continue to be that hand that can be held in the darkest of hours, the agonizing moments of pain, and the stillness of the day.

Stay strong, parent of a sick child.  Stay courageous.  Stay hopeful.

Stay.

Although you may feel like the loneliest person on Earth, your presence is a pillar of gladness that helps your child.

Together, you are not alone.

Dear Parent of a Sick Child (letter #2)

Dear Parent of a Sick Child,

You are still there, aren’t you?  You are still at the hospital awaiting for results, for your child to wake up, and for any glimpse of good news…anything that will settle your heart to the hope of a new day without sickness.  You are tired, but you do not want to show it.  You put on a strong face, but you wonder sometimes if you can keep this costume of strength on.

You have found yourself to be a superhero of sorts,  During those quiet moments, you feel like Clark Kent.  You feel vulnerable, weak, and absolutely human.  Yet, during those strong moments where your sick child is watching, you adorn yourself with that cape of strength that you have uncomfortably worn for a while now.  You become Superman or Superwoman.  You stay up all night watching the monitors next to your child.  You make a list of questions for treatment options, expectations, and possibilities.  That brave mask you wear that shows no sign of weakness or vulnerability is rarely taken off, especially around your sick child.

Yet, you sneak off to the isolated corners of the hospital where no one can see you.  You weep with the agony of a desperate heart.  You cry out, “Please, please. Heal my child.”  You bargain with God.  You tell Him that you would gladly trade positions with your child.  You would shorten your life in order to lengthen the life of your baby.  You, dear parent of a sick child, are a weary soldier.

Dear Parent of a Sick Child, be still now.  It is okay for you to weep in the quiet corners of the hospital, and to bargain about extending your child’s life.  It is okay for you to yearn to swap places with your sick child.  You are only human, you know.  But….

You are a warrior.  You hold your child with an incomparable measure of strength as he or she gets one more treatment, one more I.V. that cannot seem to find a vein, and one more painful test. You stay up all night in order to catch your child opening his or her eyes for the first time in several weeks.

Your shield has become one of hope.  It may get dings in it, but you never stop carrying it.  It has become your defensive weapon against those who bring you bad news.  Although dampened at times, it still reflects a light that others catch when around you.

You, parent of a sick child, are one of the toughest kind of parents.  You are a survivor of a war waged on the one person you would give your life for.  You did not ask for this.  You did not expect this.  You were barely able to stand when you received the news that broke your heart, but, you stood for your child.

Yes, you are a Superhero of sorts.  You are a warrior.  You wear the mask of bravery, the cape of strength, and the shield of hope.  

Dear Parent of a Sick Child, do you want to know something?

Your child knows you are there.  Your child sees your brave face.  Your child does not know that you disappear to the isolated corners of the hospital.  Your child does not realize that your knees buckled at the devastating news.  Your child also does not know that you bargain with God on his or her behalf.

Do you want to know why?

Because while you are busy being a non-glorified superhero, you step aside so that your child becomes the warrior, the fighter, and the one who receives the praise for being strong.  

Dear Parent of a Sick Child, your kind of strength only comes around every so often.  Most parents will (thankfully) never know the depths of exhaustion mixed with a sliver of hope that you have gone through.

Sneak off to the quiet corners of the hospital if you need to.  Pray, and plead with God about the life of your child.  Advocate for treatment options, keep your mask of bravery, cape of strength, and shield of hope on.  

For your child…

the one you pray over,

the one you bargain for,

the one your knees buckled in despair over,

the one you put on a mask of bravery for,

the one you wear your cape of strength around,

and the one you carry your shield of hope for,

will also wear a mask of bravery, a cape of strength, and a shield of hope.

Dear Parent of a Sick Child, you are a warrior.

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