Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Thank you so much to everyone who was thinking about me and praying for me on Sunday. The Edmarc Hospice picnic went really well and was a great experience. I know many of the kids were so happy with their gifts, although I would say the parents seemed to be the most excited. "These are free? You're not taking donations? So we can just take them? One for each of our kids?" Yes :)
And a very special thank you to those who donated their time, resources, and money to ease my load. I can't tell you how much I appreciated your help!
I was one of a few different special touches added to the picnic for the kids' enjoyment. There was also a really talented face-painter, a Mr. and Mrs. Claus, dressed in summer vacation clothes, craft projects, and an Olympic gold-medalist swimmer who came representing an organization called Never Ever Give Up. You could tell the kids had a blast.
I have a few really special memories. There was a girl there, probably older elementary school-aged, and severely handicapped. She was confined to her wheelchair, blind, and very unresponsive to simuli. One of the Edmarc directors encouraged me to go over to the girl and bring her a headband. I asked her caretaker if I could put it on for her. I slipped the bright pink headband over her head, being careful to support her neck. I was telling her how pretty she looked and how the headband matched her sunglasses, unsure of whether these words meant anything to her, but hoping the gentle tones communicated something worthwhile. Those moments were truly washing-of-the-feet moments. It was such a privilege to tenderly care for this little girl.
Later that afternoon, an adorable little boy came up to grab a cape. He proudly reported that he was four years old, but it seemed the illness that was afflicting his body had stunted his growth, and he wasn't much bigger than my 2 1/2 year old. I asked him what his favorite color was. "Blue!" was the enthusiastic reply. Wanting to communicate as much love and admiration as I could, I got down to his eye level and swooped the silky blue cape over his shoulders, attaching the velcro ends around his neck. "Wow! You look awesome! I think your muscles just grew a little. Can you show me those muscles?" Without hesitation, this little guy puffed out his chest and flexed his muscles proudly. I hoped so much, in that brief moment, that this little boy, who was neither very big or very strong, felt very much that way. And I hope the superhero cape helped him feel like as much of a fighter and as much of a hero as he truly is.
The very last special moment happened as I was packing up. A mom came up to check out the Little Ladybug Shoppe display table. She took the time to read Evie's story. With misty eyes she looked over at me, "Was that your baby?" I barely whispered yes and she just grabbed me and we hugged and cried together. She told me her son was just diagnosed with his terminal illness in November and, much like me, she feels this immense need to help other moms faced with a similar situation. We chatted a while, tears and laughter intermingled. She told me the tears come all the time now and I affirmed that I knew exactly what she meant. "And if you see another mom and make eye contact, that's just about all you need to connect. We feel that same pain for our babies." I couldn't agree more. We hugged again and wished each other a pleasant afternoon. But that heart-to-heart connection was medicine for my lonely soul. I have wonderful friends and family, but to connect, in person, with another mother who knows the gut-wrenching pain and wearisome mind battle that is involved with anticipating the death of a child, it really was a comfort.
And of course there were other moments. The way every little boy would sort of fishtail away from my table just to catch a glimpse of his cape floating behind him. The comments from one little girl, "You made these? These are so awesome! This one matches my outfit ... sweet!" Watching one little boy run up a hill, cape waving in the breeze, his fist outstretched as if on his very own superhero mission. An expectant mom "shopping" for headbands for her little one to come. An older brother who came to my table "just to get a cape for my little brother" and ended up taking one for himself, too. That's him in the picture, by the way ;). And an adorable blonde-haired, blue-eyed toddler girl who refused to wear a headband but kept her sky blue superhero cape on the whole afternoon.
It was such a wonderful experience. I am so grateful the Lord opened up the doors for me to serve those kids in such a unique way. I hope it was as much of a blessing for them as it was for me.
This was a picture of the sky on my way home Sunday evening. It seemed like an opening right into the Heavens. Would it be crazy to think Evie was watching me that day? Maybe. But maybe not ...
ps ... Because I'd been working so hard on this event, I am a bit behind on emails, etc. I'm sorry ... I will get back to everything shortly!