Thursday, May 21, 2009

Precious Memories

Twelve years ago, while I was working as a reporter and assistant editor at a local newspaper, I had the rare privilege of interacting with a family who was enduring the greatest tragedy any parent can imagine -- the loss of a child. I helped chronicle the last days of his life as he endured the pain and mind-numbing fatigue of fighting to live in a body that is rapidly shutting down.

Suffering from a brain tumor, the young boy was semi-comatose most of the time I was around him. I'm sure that I was little more than a blur much like a colorful butterfly just beyond your peripheral vision. You might be aware it's there, only if you turn your head a certain way.

Regardless of his awareness level, he certainly enhanced mine. I have often shared parts of his story on short-term missions trips and in various churches and organizations along the eastern seaboard.

Back in late February or early March, I had an occasion to visit one of my doctors. I hadn't been in his office for a number of years, so I was not surprised to see that he had different staff. Shortly after I signed in, the office manager came around the partition and sat beside me. I looked up from my book.

"You don't remember me, do you?"

She had a familiar look about her, but I didn't recognize her immediately.

"You did some stories about my little boy . . ."

"Justin," I replied softly, before she she could finish the sentence.

She nodded her head, a common bond established.

Subsequent visits led to shared memories and her now-grown sons being surprised not only that his mother met me, but that I remembered them after so long. But how can you forget a life-changing experience?

At the end of our reacquaintance, I told her that I was planning on scrapbooking her son's challenge. I promised that I would do pages for her as well. I planned to bring them to her by my next visit.

That was before I became a Close To My Heart consultant.

Imagine my surprise when the few days since my last visit transformed into 90! Here I was, on the eve of my doctor's appointment, with not one bit of my promise even started. I quickly assembled five pages, embellishing here and there, knowing that it wasn't what I wanted but that it would have to do. A promise is, after all, a promise. The next morning, I gave her the pages in a scrapbook.

"I wanted to do more with it than I did," I said, apologizing for its simplicity. The 12-year-old newsprint showed signs of creasing as bittersweet memories returned.

"After all this time, I haven't been able to do this," she said softly, obviously touched by the gesture. "Now I can show my grandson the stories about his uncle who died the day he was born."

As dissastisfied as I was with the effort, I appreciate the anointing of it all. It's less about the glitz or the bling or the layers and more about the sharing, the caring and the love. Even the bittersweet memories must be shared.

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