Dear Parent of a Sick Child {letter #5}

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I sat on my bed soaking up the silence of an empty house with the knowledge that soon the kids would be home and I would hear, “Mom! I want this!” and “Mom, he’s bugging me!”  “Mom!”  “Mom!”  “MOMMMMM!!”

Silence sure is golden when it seems so evasive these days.

But then, Dear Parent of a Sick Child, I thought of you.

The beeps of machines are the only sounds you hear.  The pacing of your own anxious feet, the hustle of nurses in and out the door, and the frenzied whispered prayers that roll off your tongue are the sounds that surround your life right now.

The sound of silence is deafening, isn’t it?

You are beginning to despise silence.  Day in and day out, you wait for a noise…any noise…that would alert your anxious heart to the awakening of your child.  Sure, you hear the occasional whimper and you engage in conversations with others, but you know these things do not equate for the joyful, full-on, beautiful noise of your child.

During the times when I’m frustrated by my four-year-old asking for “More kisses, Mommy” as I’m trying to get him to go to sleep, you are praying for your little one to wake up from the drug-induced haze of sleep.  The moments when I’ve told my eight-year-old daughter that I need some space, you have craved more time and more space with yours.  When I’ve had to get on to my ten-year-old because he decided to put off a homework assignment, the furthest thing from your mind is worrying about late schoolwork.

These things and these noises are ones that parents of well children take for granted.

You’ve heard people say, “Everything happens for a reason.”  That just seems like a load of nonsense, doesn’t it?  There doesn’t seem to be any good reason that your child is struggling to survive.  It doesn’t make sense that your child has to endure the pain and hardship of a severe, life-threatening illness.  If ever you wished for silence, it would be the times when those five words were spoken to you as if you needed enlightenment or some form of justification for the unjust attack on your child’s body.

You never imagined how painfully loud silence could be until you were forced to sit in the same non-comforting hospital chair for days, months even, and you became engulfed by it.  You long to hear the heavy pitter-patter of your little one’s thick feet bouncing down the floor.  You yearn to hear the slightly off-key voice of your daughter belting out her favorite song.  You wish you could hear just one more of your son’s goofy excuses for not getting his homework done.

This.  

This sits so heavy on my heart.

The loud and painful sound of silence.

The ugly truth is that none of us are prepared for what you have been living the past few months or years.  It is hard to prepare for hell when you are living a seemingly, heavenly life, but this is what you are going through, isn’t it?  When you hear other parents complain about how loud their kids are, you just want to escape inside your own skin in order to maintain a sense of control and not lose your cool.

When the laughter of a child barrels its way in your direction, you notice it and you enjoy it, but those feelings are fleeting.  Your joy dissolves into despair as you turn to the sound of silence surrounding you while holding your child’s hand, and you go right back to whispering words like these that have become your mantra:

“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silencefor my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.  On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God.”  -Psalms 62:5-7

Dear Parent of a Sick Child,

Hang in there.  Don’t be too proud to ask for help or too timid to ask for prayer. Celebrate the slightest of improvements.  Never give up on the healing power of hope.  May God filter the silence with grace.

For Parents of Well Children – May we never, ever take for granted the noises of our children.

Author’s Note:  I am not a parent of a sick child, thankfully, but I was a sick child.  As an adult, I now understand what my parents went through and the trauma that still touches their lives from watching me dance within the shadow of death. I have such compassion for parents of sick children.  This is the fifth letter in my, “Dear Parent of a Sick Child Series.”  I truly hope this letter series brings a small measure of comfort for the families waiting for their children to be well.

 

Dear Parent of a Sick Child

Dear Parent of a Sick Child,

Hello there.  How are you?  No, really…how are you?  I’m sure you are tired, worried, overwhelmed, desperately seeking normalcy, and wondering when your child will get better.  I hope my words bring you encouragement.

When I was a sick child, I remember being cared for by adults.  I remember the adults that surrounded my bedside whispering encouragement into my ears.  I remember never waking up alone in my hospital room, never wondering if I would be taken care of, and never imagining that I was not loved.

My memories are mostly like flashes from a movie screen.  These moments are frozen in time.  I knew I was in an immense amount of pain, but I don’t remember the pain.  I don’t remember the struggle to survive.  I don’t remember my body being ravaged by infection.  I don’t remember these moments at all.

I do, however, remember the love I felt in the room.  I remember the gentle rubbing of my arms, the softness of someone holding my hand, the brushing away of my hair from my eyes, and the kisses on my face.  I remember these things.

I remember receiving cards, letters, balloons, flowers, stuffed animals, and just about anything else that would bring a smile to me.  I remember waking up with my parents there….all of the time.  Even when I was in and out of consciousness, I remember them.

I also remember my parents never showing their fear, despite being filled with it.  I remember how they showed great strength; even though their bodies wore the trappings of exhaustion.  I remember their caring hands, their patience with my recovery, and their filling-in to meet my daily needs.  I remember being told I was a “little trooper”, and that my will to live was stronger than any illness.  I remember my mother giving me baths in the hospital, and my dad holding my hand as often as he could.

Please, dear parent, please know that your presence is precious to your sick child. Your bravery is beautiful, and your courage is contagious.  Don’t stop fighting for your child.  Don’t stop asking questions about treatment options.  Don’t stop whispering sweet words of hope into your child’s ears.  These words will resonate deep down in your child.

Tell your child how much you love them.  Tell your child that he or she is the bravest little one you have ever seen.  Tell your child stories of healing.  Tell your child that he or she is a superhero.  Give your child the hope that you are clinging to.  Pray for your child; pray over child; and ask others to join in your prayers.

Your child knows you are there.  He or she knows it, even if not awake.  Don’t forget that.  You are the most significant person in his or her life.  You matter. Please, dear parent, please know how much you mean to your sickly child.

Hang in there.  You are in a situation that you never dreamed you would be in.  You would give anything to trade positions with your baby, but you cannot.  I know how hard that must be for you.

Dear Parent of a Sick Child, get some sleep.  Ask for help.  Take care of yourself.  You are a superhero.  You are a trooper.  Your will is strong.  Don’t forget these things.

 Your child needs you.

Bless you, dear parent, bless you. Thank you for striving for the best care for your child.  Thank you for holding his or her hand in the middle of many sleepless nights.  Thank you for putting on the bravest face you can during this difficult time.

Dear Parent of a Sick Child, what you are doing matters.  Your strength, your wisdom, your love, your hope, your courage, and your presence are the greatest gifts you can give your child.  Don’t forget that, and don’t be discouraged.  

Your child will remember your presence more than the pain.

Other posts you might like:  Mother’s Resilience 

                                           Valley of Death, Mercy of Life

                                           Dear Parent of a Sick Child (letter #2)