When Kids Get Sick. Really Sick.
Last weekend our family went on a ski vacation. Sub-zero temperatures, howling winds and I don’t ski. I also forgot toothpaste, shampoo and a razor, and none of those were easy to come by where we were. The kids went to ski school and had a great time. I bundled up in the ski hut, feeling gross and furry, and kept up with work e-mails. I was lamenting our choice of family vacation to my good friend, who was walking the beaches of St. Pete in sunny Florida. She was harassing me with poolside photos of the kids enjoying the sun and surf.
Then on our last night on the mountain, my daughter got sick. As in she threw up all over bed and all through the night. We spent our last hours at our ski condo cleaning and sanitizing, and I don’t think the four of us had ever been happier to leave for home. From her vacation in Florida, my friend stopped gloating and sent her sympathies.
But then two days later, still in Florida, my friend’s daughter got sick. Seriously sick. She has an underlying medical condition that turned what was probably a run-of-the-mill virus into a critical situation. Today she is in the ICU, far from home, and far from her regular medical team. And for the past several days it has taken a team of family, friends and co-workers to support this little girl and her family.
And yet, not for one moment have I sat here and thought I was glad not to be my friend. I have been surprised to find that instead I feel fortunate that I am able to help in some way. And I heard the same from our travel agent at work, who stepped in to help despite being out of the office for her own family crisis. “Being able to help them makes me feel good,” she said. And another co-worker who dropped everything to help provide care for my friend’s sons said, “It’s nothing. I would want someone to do the same for me.”
There’s nothing worse than the helplessness you feel when your child or someone you love gets seriously ill. And there is no better medicine in the face of crisis than having a sense of purpose. So, if it pleases you, keep this little girl in your thoughts. If you pray, pray for her. If you act, do something kind for someone who needs it. And if you do nothing more than remember that everyone you meet is facing their own battles and that they could use some soldiers in their fight, then you are doing a wonderful thing.