A couple days ago, as a friend and I pulled into the parking lot of a local church that was serving as the temporary location of a Children’s Hospital Blood Mobile, it was as though a wrecking ball came from nowhere and crashed into my gut.
We had signed up several weeks prior to donate blood for a local little boy named Corey, just a week younger than Jud, who has been battling cancer for the last two years. He will be undergoing a stem cell transplant which will require multiple blood transfusions, and I happened to have the same blood type. I imagined my blood helping to sustain the life of this precious guy and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
What I did not anticipate was the trigger of particularly intense emotional pain upon our arrival. As my friend’s mini van eased into a parking space, I observed a hearse stationed outside the church and a funeral taking place in the sanctuary as people also lined up for the blood drive.
My mind raced to Corey’s parents who are fighting to keep their son alive and the turmoil they must be experiencing, with which I am intimately acquainted. Then I imagined the loss of life being mourned inside the church and the grief that might be swallowing the loved ones of the deceased; I know it all too well. Then I reached up and held the picture of my precious boy, hanging from my neck, and wished there had been a potential cure for Jud that would have enabled me to donate my blood to him.
My experience of the circumstances and the mental pictures of Jud’s suffering and death sent my heart racing in my chest, my breathing became shallow, and my eyes began to burn.
I retreated into my thoughts as I proceeded to fill out paperwork, had my blood tested for iron content, and waited for the next phlebotomist.
When I finally laid in the frigid blood mobile, red fluid circulating from my heart to a plastic bag, the tears flowed. It was pain for Corey’s parents and the other families I now know who are fighting for the life of their child. It was grief for the people in that church sanctuary who were mourning the loss of a loved one, along with all the families I now know who have lost a child. And it was sorrow over the fact that I never had the opportunity to pour the fluid of life into my son…
But, there was some redemption in the chance to offer my blood to another child in hopes that their parents will never have to see a hearse outside a church transporting their beloved kiddo.