I remember it as though it was yesterday. I was lying on the bench in front of the sliding glass door talking on the phone to my mom. In those early days after Samuel died, talking on the phone became our nightly ritual. Some days were filled with talk of how we each managed to get through the hours, while other days my mother sat patiently listening to me cry into the phone because it was all I could muster. In this particular conversation, I remember telling her that I felt as though I had once been filled with light and now it was as if all of the candles had been blown out. I feared it would be like that forever. Never to laugh, smile, find joy or hope in this world again. When I look back on that conversation now, I can clearly see Jesus sitting next to me. Listening to the words I was telling my momma. I can hear Him softly whispering to me…
“I will bring you Light.”
“I will bring you Light.”
Not in all my wildest dreams could I have anticipated how He would bring the light back. If left to my own devices, I know I would have become bitter and angry. I would have disappeared, but God wouldn’t let me. He kept reminding me of all that He had opened my eyes to during those weeks in the hospital and hospice. He wouldn’t let me forget everything that I had let in. All the people that I had closed my eyes to were now deep in my heart. They changed me. Through the deepest levels of pain and sadness came the most honest and pure joy. I felt gratitude for all that I was given. I was grateful that I got to hold my son while he had breath in his lungs, because not all mothers do. I was grateful that I got to sleep in that tiny old foldout chair in his room, because not all mothers can. I was grateful that we were able to take him to hospice so that he could live in peace for his last few days on Earth, because not all families have the choice. Through all my pain and grief I finally let God do the thing He’d been trying to do all along…open my heart. Life was certainly less complicated when I lived closed up, but it wasn’t an option anymore. I tried for a moment to pretend that the pain and anguish that I felt over the loss of my son was unique to me, but I knew better. I finally understood that pain is pain. We all feel it and we can all help bring comfort to it. That’s why the Joyful Life Library is so important to me. It’s important to the mom that feels like she can’t care for her child amongst all the doctors and nurses. It’s important for the grandparent that wants to visit their grandchild and lift their spirits. It’s important for the siblings that miss their brother or sister and are afraid of the tubes and beeping machines.
Giving the gift of normality to a family in this situation, if even just for 20 pages of a favorite story, is something that can’t be underestimated. I know that. I’ve lived that. I’ve seen other families that would have been able to have benefitted from that. That’s why I need to take our little project to the next level. I want nothing more then to fill every PICU on the planet with kids books, but for the time being I’ll start with two hospitals; Cardon Children’s Medical Center in Arizona and Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach in California. I want to keep their shelves filled with books, and because of the high volume of patients that circulate through the PICU, that means we’ll need a lot of them. Visit the Joyful Life Library to learn more about how you can get involved in the project!