Saturday, March 1, 2014

Parents of the Bleeding Heart

Last Tuesday at the hospital, I was worn out. At the end of the long day, as we were boarding the elevator, I noticed the boy in the stroller next to us. He was so shockingly disfigured that it took everything in me to not react. His mom was very friendly and comfortable. But my heart broke for her. Not that her son was broken. Not that she was broken from him. But that society is broken and that for the rest of his life she'll bear the burden of protecting her son from society.

The mom waved a friendly goodbye and I cried the whole way to the in-hospital McDonalds for Grace's promised treat. There I saw a family with a teenage son who had Down Syndrome. I emotionally braced myself for more heartache. Instead I saw the dad smile at his son with pure affection. His mom made a joke and the little sister and dad all giggled, including the boy in the fun with smiles and pats on the back. They were as happy and comfortable as if they were at Disneyland.

I've realized that I've been initiated into the sacred society, "Parents of the Bleeding Heart." It's not a secret society, but it is one that can only be joined by experience and every parent at Children's Hospital is in it. We share each other's griefs and joys and our hearts beat as one for our children. The disfigured boy is now my boy, the downs family is now my family.

I talked to another Cancer Mom the other day. She was frustrated that her support group didn't understand what she was going through. Only Parents of the Bleeding Heart can really understand. But if everyone I love and look to support from was in that group, we wouldn't make it. And those in my network who don't understand fully, at least I know their love for us is passionate and heartfelt. (Although I can also understand that mom's frustration with only receiving knit hats from her support team, instead of them looking deeper to discover what their family's real needs are. For the record though, Grace has loved ever hat and headband she's gotten so far.)

Every time I visit the Children's Hospital I'm inspired. The mom whose son was so disfigured, she held her head high. I met a foster mom who drives forty-five minutes each way, as much as three times a week to bring her foster daughter in for treatment, when all she had to do was find another foster family for the girl. I met a mom with four children and in the midst of her two-year old daughter's struggle she's advocating for cancer kids to receive more than the 3.8% of federal cancer research funding that they currently get. I met another cancer mom who gives me a big hug every time she sees me. And another who adopted her boy while he was being treated when she was a young, single missionary in Romania. The mom who only got knit hats drives in from Arizona with her husband and toddler daughter every six weeks.

I'm in awe of the strength and courage I see everywhere here. It's a kinship I never wanted, but I'm proud to be family with this new sacred society. And in this close-knit group I also see my Heavenly Father in a new light. They've always shown Jesus holding a bleeding heart, but really it's His Father who holds it. Just hopefully not in the same creepy-zombie-like-way that they draw Jesus holding it.

P.s. I still heart Catholics even if I don't like all the imagery...

1 comment:

  1. Life can be so raw, and the society of other hurting parents can be the most helpful and inspiring connection ever made. Ever. So heroic it makes one speechless. I also found that in my own way. Your posts on how to help are fantastic. So glad you are telling it like it is.