Happy Thanksgiving. Black Friday. Small business Saturday. Cyber Monday. Giving Tuesday. And we haven’t even made it to December!
Every day is designated for something today, it seems. The holidays are a time of magic and family and fun, and of giving gifts. But all of these designated days and designated feelings can be tough on anyone who feels like it is impossible to keep up. This is particularly true for families with children who are ill.
We ARE thankful. Thankful for wonderful doctors who designate so much time and energy and passion in working with pediatric brain tumor patients. Thankful for social media, that connects us to other brain tumor families who can support us, commiserate with us, and educate us — on medications, side effects, and the emotional roller-coaster of parenting a child with a brain tumor. Thankful for teachers who try their best to adapt lessons and work with our kids under too-full classrooms and packed agendas. Thankful for our children who are forced to be brave and to endure. Thankful for family and friends, who support us and cry with us and stand by us. But our thanks has its limits when we see our children suffer.
Why aren’t more doctors and scientists and pharmaceutical companies pursuing this field? Why is social media so difficult, with its juxtaposing posts from parents whose children are in surgery, in MRI machines, in radiation helmets, in the ICU or the PICU, with posts from others sitting on the beach or laughing at a cafe? Why can the holidays make the gap seem so wide, the “before” and “after” moments in what was, and what is now, so vast? How is a child who can no longer see, or walk, or go to school supposed to feel the blessings of the season?
I am not asking for a donation or for you to make a purchase today or write your Member of Congress. I am asking for something maybe more impossible: more space in these jam-packed days. More room, to see each other struggling, and to know how to help when we can. A smile, an errand run, a kind word, an invitation, a compassionate expression.
These are the gifts we all need this season.