Thursday, January 30

When Life Breaks Your Heart

My heart is incredibly sad tonight for a family I have never met.

One day, towards the end of November I walked down into our basement where Scott was working in his home office. I had a mundane question about the house or schedules or something of the sort.  When he turned around to look at me he looked completely crushed and utterly despondent. 

"Babe, what's wrong?!" I asked, quite concerned. It's very rare that I see that much sadness, on the brink of tears, in his eyes. 

He went on to tell me about the news one of his colleagues had just shared with him. Their 4 month old little boy, Landon, had been diagnosed over Thanksgiving week with an incredibly rare, progressive, degenerative muscle condition. Most of the children diagnosed never see their first birthday. 

Oh God. Dear God. Why do such things happen? My heart aches even as I write this. 

As Scott shared the news with me the tears were unavoidable. How could we, a husband and wife with three beautiful girls, one just eight months old, not feel deeply and personally the despair and utterly tragic nature of such a diagnosis? It seemed so unfair. It seemed like the absolute saddest thing on earth we could even possible imagine. We did not even want to imagine it and yet, for Scott's colleague, it was the new reality he was facing. 

We wanted to help, knowing there was nothing we could do. 
We wanted to stomp our feet and shake our fists at the injustice of it all. 
We simultaneously wanted to ask God for healing and ask him why and ask him to make everything right, even though, despite our very deep faith, we realized the direction the whole thing was heading. 

And, when you come to the realization that life can be that tragic, you're actually not sure what to say to God. What to ask. How to pray. You continue to trust in a sovereign God who oversees all, yet your trust becomes complicated and layered and complex. You realize how broken the world truly is...and you're not sure what to do with that. 

One of my very favorite Christmas cards this year was sent from this particular colleague and his wife. It was a beautiful picture of their dear sweet boy. He was wearing a brown knitted winter hat that looked like a bear. His face was perfectly sweet. He looked completely healthy in the picture, even though I knew he was not. It was a photograph taken of him laying on a blanket with Christmas ornaments around him. It was beautiful and it touched me deeply and made my heart wretch when I hung it up. 

I would look at that card almost everyday and in the midst of the busyness of Christmas I would remember to say prayers for that little boy. Every time I saw his face I would be reminded, starkly and almost viciously, how lucky and blessed we are to have children who are healthy. Why us? Why them? Why? Why? Why? 

Thank you God. Thank you for my girls' health. Please God, please. Heal that little boy. Don't make them go through this. 

When I finally took our Christmas cards down I stacked them in a pile and placed them on our counter. I put their card on top as a reminder to keep praying for Landon...It was several weeks before I finally tucked the cards away with our other Christmas pictures from the year, though that sweet face is imprinted forever in my mind. 

And then, tonight, while I was sitting in Panera trying to write a few words about life and kids and family, Scott forwarded me an email from his colleague that said what we were hoping he would never have to say...that their sweet son had passed away. Six months old. It makes absolutely no sense. 

When you hear news like that it breaks your heart. Into pieces and pieces and pieces. 

When you hear news like that your silly, minuscule anxieties and challenges and frustrations about life and messes and kids suddenly seem incredibly trivial. 

So tonight, with a broken heart, I say a prayer for sweet Landon and his family. Please Lord,  Please. Surround them with angels. Comfort them. Uphold them. Send help and lots of love to them. Be with them every moment. There are many things we will never understand in this lifetime, but we know that you send healing to the brokenhearted and I pray that you would do that in these weeks and months to come. 

If you are reading this, please say a prayer for Landon and for his parents...May the peace that passes all understanding be with them. 

If you are reading this and have healthy children at home, remember to be thankful for that too...It's a blessing that we often take for granted, and one that tonight, I'm completely humbled by and grateful for. 

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