My church has something called the prayer chain. This is not uncommon in medium sized churches, I think. Basically, someone has a need for prayer (sickness, accident etc.) and the Deacons spring to life. Each Deacon gets called, and they all have a list of church members they’re supposed to call and notify. Then we all commence with praying for the person in question. Prayer chain calls are often sad (although there are new babies in there!), and usually things like “person so and so has fallen on the ice and broken their hip, please pray for them”.

Today in Costco I got a call that a member of my church — and a friend of mine — is in the ICU with suspected meningitis. He’s ventilated and sedated, because he was delirious. He was on church on Sunday and feeling fine. In fact, they gave us a box of outgrown diapers on Sunday. Their daughter was at Grey’s third birthday party. Their second daughter is just a couple weeks older than Thane.

I am praying as hard as I can that he recovers quickly and well. But meningitis is terrifying. One day you’re healthy. Then you’re not. It can kill even perfectly healthy people. You can’t do much to prepare against it (other than be vaccinated — my quick research shows that there are lots of different ways you can get meningitis; some of them have vaccines available and some don’t). I cannot imagine what it would be like to lose him. But then I immediately jump to my own family. The parallels are simply too close. I am not afraid of dying for my sake. I am terrified of dying for my family’s. I am still needed here. And I cannot bear the thought of losing one of my boys – big or small. I’m nearly breathless with sympathetic fear. (And I keep turning my neck around to see if it feels stiff.)

I wish there was lots I’ve offered. I have offered to take the girls (since they’re my boys age, I’m well set up for them) but I can’t imagine that will happen since their family has made it in. I’ve offered my stored milk in case they’re having trouble feeding the youngest with the tumult (not likely, but I’m about the only person in a position to make that particular offer). I offer up my prayers.

But man. Merry Christmas.

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Brenda currently lives in Stoneham MA, but grew up in Mineral WA. She is surrounded by men, with two sons, one husband and two boy cats. She plays trumpet at church, cans farmshare produce and works in software.

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