Suffer the little children to come unto Me...

To everything there is a season,
a time for every purpose under the sun.
A time to be born and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
a time to kill and a time to heal ...
a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance ...
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to lose and a time to seek;
a time to rend and a time to sew;
a time to keep silent and a time to speak;
a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.

~ ecclesiastes 3:1-8

My brother just called me with the news that the four-year-old daughter of his college roommate (and my surrogate brother) passed away this afternoon. Madeyline was born with severe heart problems, the details of which escape me now; these issues compounded and led to other health concerns. It was always understood that her heart might not be able to withstand its compromised state, and this afternoon, it just couldn't go on any more. She was a beautiful child -- a real girly-girl with bows in her hair and lots of ruffles and lace. And I’m secure in the knowledge that she’s in heaven, healthy without pain or hindrances for the first time in her life. Just as beautiful as ever.

Maddy was just about six months younger than Will, and they shared the same therapists for a long time. Her mom and I spent many hours on the phone right after she was born, with me using my hospital experience with Will to give her guidance. Unfortunately, this is not the first of Will's contemporaries to have died, but Maddy was certainly the closest.

While I cannot, and would not ever presume to understand what Maddy’s parents are going through, having a brush with mortality when Will was just a few weeks old was enough to permanently pierce my soul. Losing a child must be the most excruciating thing a parent can endure.

And my aching heart overflows with pain for my friends right now.

At a moment like this, I cannot help but be humbled by the blessings we’ve received in Will’s life. He is a gift; his very existence the truest example of grace I know.

Things that were important not fifteen minutes ago seem petty and banal now.

Perspective gained in the midst of grief.

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