A hope note
I met Linda 20-something years ago when she brought her only child, a 10-day-old baby boy, into the emergency room. He had been, inexplicably, attacked by the family pet. He died three days later.
Linda, understandably, went into deep, immobilizing depression. Then one day, months later, she went out and got her hair styled differently. She began seeing an orthodontist to straighten her teeth. She bought a new wardrobe. She decided not to go back to her job as a supervisor at a fast-food restaurant but to enroll in college.
Another change, at a deeper level, was going on inside Linda. She began seeing other people differently. She did volunteer work in the chaplain’s office, in the same hospital where her son died. She became a counselor in a support group for bereaved parents. She produced a videotape to teach pediatricians how to help bereaved parents.
Several years later, Linda began having balance problems. A large malignant tumor was found in her spinal column. Surgery to remove it left her partially paralyzed. At Christmas, she gave the person who would conduct her funeral some music, along with these instructions: ‘I don’t care what else you do at my funeral, but play one song as my final message to the world.’ It was Barry Manilow’s ‘I Made It Through the Rain.’
Every year since then, several days before Christmas, Linda’s family delivers a package of gifts to Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville. It’s a box of stuffed animals and toys, funded by Linda’s will, for the sick boys and girls in the hospital over Christmas.
Linda proves the truth of Dag Hammerskjold’s words: ‘We are not permitted to choose the frame of our destiny. But what we put into it is ours.’