Today I found out who my friends really are.
I was sitting in the livingroom, feeling sorry for myself, thinking about little Charlie again, when there was a sound at the door. It sounded like someone was on the front porch.
Sure enough, shortly thereafter, the doorbell rang. When my husband, Dick, answered it, I was shocked to find my friend Carole from church standing on the front porch. She was carrying a fruit basket; in the basket was a white envelope.
She greeted me with a sympathetic, yet caring, smile. Carole knew that Dick and I were in the throes of grieving for our little son, Charlie Mason, who died last week of mitochondrial disease. He was not even three years old; yet in his brief life, he suffered terribly. It was the hadest thing we ever had to experience, but then last weeek, he suffered a seizure along with complications, and he died despite the efforts from doctors and nurses.
Charlie's funeral was on Tuesday. Nearly the entire town came out to pay their last respects to a special little boy who had touched all of their hearts with his courage and will to live despite overwhelming odds. That he lived this long was nothing short of a miracle.
Yet it didn't lessen the pain or the grief any. Any thought of him or seeing reminders of our son (the empty wheelchair, his feeding pump, his clothes and toys, photos, etc.) was enough to send Dick and I spiraling into fits of uncontrollable crying. It was a horrible few days for us. I had just gotten through crying yet again when the doorbell rang. Dick answered it. It was our friend, Carole.
Carole knew what we were going through: she, herself, had lost her 17 year old son to leukemia two years ago and buried her daughter when she was five; she died of meningitis. She not only lost one child, but two. Yet her faith remained strong; she relied heavily on God to get her through the painful memories. She always seemed to have a glow about her; Carole always seemed to be smiling.
Carole greeted both Dick and myself; she then walked over, still holding the basket in her arms. She set it on the table and said that it was a gift. There were apples, peaches, bananas, oranges, even pineapples. It looked beautiful. Carole then handed a white envelope to us; "it was a little something to help us through the sad times", which was what she had explained as she handed us the envelope.
Upon opening it, I was surprised to find a beautiful card with one of the most beautiful prayers written on the front. It seemed perfect for what we were going through. I opened the card; inside were not one, not two, but five crisp, brand new $100 bills.
At the sight of the money, I started bawling, as did Dick. Carole came over and took us both into her arms; we stood there, crying and hugging one another. We felt the peace of God's love settle upon our grief-stricken hearts. It was a holy moment.
I told Carole that the money wasn't necessary, but she wouldn't hear of it. She knew we were saddled with unpaid medical bills; she felt led by the Holy Spirit to help us in our time of need, which was how she explained it to us.
Carole knew Charlie as well as her own children before they died; she loved him like an adopted son. Whenever he was in the hospital (which was rather often, I'm afraid), Carole would come to see him, as a way to show support for our child. When he was well, she would come over and babysit him while Dick and I went out to eat or for a drive, just to get away from the pressures of raising a child like Charlie. Having a child like Charlie was anything but easy: his disease was often so unpredictable.
We know that we will probably never get over our son's death, but with friends like Carole Grigsby (and others from our church, as well as caring neighbors), we would certainly get through it, as long as we had God on our side.