It was late Tuesday afternoon. My son Sam and I were driving home from Children’s Hospital. Traffic was heavy and although the radio was on, I wasn’t listening. Sam was. “It’s true, you know,” he said.
“That ‘you never know what you’ve got till it’s gone,’” he answered as the song’s chorus replayed in the background. “I never understood that before, never appreciated waking up and feeling good or being able to do whatever I wanted when I got out of bed. I just took it for granted, figuring it’d always be that way.”
Tears welled in my eyes as I struggled to find words to answer my son. In February, he’d been diagnosed with Eosinophilic Gastroenteritis, an auto-immune disease affecting his GI tract. He’d lost 22 pounds in ten weeks and spent time in the new acute care wing of Children’s Hospital. Sam’s illness had caught us off guard. He’d been a physically strong, able, active teen who regularly ate us out of house and home, and suddenly, overnight, he wasn’t eating at all and rarely left the house, rarely left the recliner.
Tuesday afternoon, four months into treatment, we were heading home from more appointments. “I’d give almost anything to go back to before I got sick and really appreciate what I had,” Sam continued.
His words sliced through my soul. “Oh Lord,” I prayed, “why does my son have to go through this? He’s only fifteen, such a hard age to be different, sick, unable to eat his favorite foods or go out to eat, and he never, ever complains. He just gets quiet and tries so hard to focus on something, anything besides the pain. This is hard, Lord!” I silently cried out. “And I don’t know if I’m strong enough to help him through this.”
My oldest son, struggling with similar emotions and rocked by the changes in his brother and their relationship, poured his heart out in song.
This is a song of my greatest friend,
The one whom I love and would die to defend,
Whose honor and loyalty have no compare,
A soldier in a battle, too much to bear.
I thought that you were unbreakable
That my faith was firm and unshakable,
But now I find that I was wrong.
There’s only one Being who’s that strong.
I can’t stand that you’re in pain,
And I don’t have the power to take it away.
It’s just too much for me to take,
That even a giant like you could break.
So hold on, Sam, this storm will pass.
Just hold on, Sam, this pain won’t last.
Hold on. Hold on. Hold on.
God’s got you in His Hands.
I feel like I’m dying on the inside,
And I’d rather run than face a lie, cause
When it comes to compassion, I’m hit or miss
But you stand and say that we’ll get through this.
And He’s watching, watching out for you,
Just have faith, and we’ll make it through
Father, there are no answers, just questions and emotions and a family holding on in faith, knowing You’ll see us through, and that we’ll make it there together, hand-in-Hand, standing strong in You! Amen.