(While perusing my archives, I came across this column written almost two years ago. Our son Nick is now 21 and continues to be in excellent health. The little girl in the piece died about a year ago. I reprint it here because the message is timeless. Whatever you're going to do, do it soon.)
Last night my wife started crying as she read an email from a woman she has never met. It all started when our youngest son was diagnosed with two rare autoimmune blood disorders 3 1/2 years ago. For six months his blood counts steadily worsened and no treatment seemed to work. Steroids didn't help, an extremely expensive infusion didn't work, and chemotherapy provided only temporary relief. As matters grew bleaker, we took our son from one specialist to another, trying to find someone who could help us. Finally the doctors decided to remove his spleen, in a last-ditch effort to reverse his condition. We didn't know until after the operation that they were afraid he would bleed to death on the operating table. But God answered many prayers, and instead of bleeding out, he hardly bled at all, much less than normal. The operation worked. Today Nick is 19 years old, 6' 4", 235 pounds, and his health is excellent.
During the darkest days before the surgery, my wife joined an Internet support group for people struggling with similar disorders. We quickly learned that many people faced situations far worse than anything our son had faced. Some suffered for years, and some did not make it. The woman who oversees the support group has a daughter who suffers greatly from the particular disorder. The daughter is only 13 years old. Her situation has gotten much worse in recent months, so much so that she doesn't want any more treatments because they are extremely difficult to endure and nothing seems to help. The doctors say nothing more can be done. Here is part of what her mother wrote in the email my wife read last night:
Hospice came in this morning to get started with her and us - they were wonderful and I know will be a great source of support. The doctor told me she expected it would be a matter of weeks - not months. She said an infection would probably take over - or she could hemorrhage and bleed to death. That is the very scariest part of everything - what she'll have to suffer through before getting her wings. God has to know that she's already earned them.
Then she adds these words of strong faith:
For so long our focus has been on saving her and now that there is nothing left to do, this is a difficult transition. We fully believe that she is going to a wonderful place - far better than this one, but our void will be massive.
She then said the only thing a parent can say at a time like this: "Please pray for her to pass quickly and gently with as little suffering as possible." Finally, since many people know about her daughter's valiant fight to live, there was a note to those who wanted to write or send a gift. She loves the toys inside Happy Meals. Her mother added this word: "Have a Happy Meal and send her the toy - but do it soon if you want to!"
That's what made my wife cry.
"But do it soon." There is a lesson here if we care to take it. Life is so short for all of us. Most of us expect to live a while longer--a few more days certainly, most likely a few more years, and many of us think we'll be around for 30 or 40 or 50 more years. But the Bible reminds us of a deeper truth: "What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes" (James 4:14). We are all just a mist, a vapor, a bit of morning fog that appears briefly and then vanishes away.
Several weeks ago I received a note saying that dear friend who was in the hospital battling cancer was going through a very difficult day. I thought to myself, "I need to give Terry a call." I got busy and didn't get around to it. He died that night. I officiated at his memorial service four days later. Terry has gone to heaven; I know his suffering is over. He was my friend. I wish I had called him when I thought about it.
Is there a call you need to make?
|Is there a person you need to see?
Is there a letter you need to write?
Don't put it off. No one lives forever. Not you. Not the other person. No more excuses. Do what you need to do.
"But do it soon."