The Beast

BEAST- noun- (definition 3)- Something formidably difficult to control or deal with. (Merriam-Webster)

   In May of 2008, our then four year old son Caleb, was diagnosed with a rare form of kidney cancer called Wilm's Tumor.

   You may ask what his story has to do with  the heart of this blog; to bring you and I to a fuller awareness of the suffering and need for RESCUE  right next door AND  across the ocean and to provide the tools, knowledge and opportunities to do something about it.

   And I say his story has everything to do with it.

   A suffering child brings forth compassion and action from people like nothing else can. When word spread about Caleb's sudden pitch into the world of pediatric cancer, friends, family and perfect strangers mobilized an all out effort to surround our whole family with an avalanche of gift cards, hand delivered dinners, homemade blankets, cash, and over 3,000 get-well cards. People told me they felt helpless and wanted to do SOMETHING to alleviate some of Caleb's suffering and to make sure we knew we were not alone in this crisis.

   And indeed, Caleb did suffer. Everything happened so fast. We went from a boy with a mild fever and our suspicion of strep to the shocking diagnosis of a life threatening and rare disease. Five months later, after weeks of surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy and unexpected complications, we had one very sick little boy on our hands.

       It was incredibly difficult to watch our son suffer and not be able to take his place. The most we could do was ensure good medical care and as his parents, simply BE there by his side. We could not fix this crisis and we certainly couldn't hide or run away from it. But there were ways we found to help Caleb walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.
   God was his immediate source of comfort. I will never forget, less than a week after the picture above was taken, Caleb was miserable. He was not allowed to eat or drink because of the bowel surgery, we were stuck in the hospital for days on end and he was very homesick. It was the middle of the night and sleep was Caleb's escape from his misery. But on this night sleep would not come. He tossed and turned, as much as was possible with multiple wires and tubes snaking from his thin body. He asked me to get in bed with him, which I carefully did. In the glow of flashing monitors and the ever present bathroom light, I argued with God on the unfairness of it all.
   Caleb's frail voice interrupted my thoughts as he began to softly sing, "Blessed be Your name, in the land that is plentiful, where Your streams of abundance flow, blessed be Your name. Blessed be Your name, when I'm found in the desert place, when  I walk through the wilderness, blessed be Your name. Every blessing you pour out I'll turn back to praise. When the darkness closes in, Lord, still I will say, blessed be Your name. You give and take away, You give and take away. My heart will choose to say, Blessed be your name."
   His faith was greater than mine at that time. Maybe it still is. God was clearly walking with Caleb through the Valley, just as He promised He would.
   There were other sources of comfort: his blankets from babyhood, jelly filled doughnuts (when he could eat), our mail lady who delivered thousands of cards to Caleb's great delight, and visits from clowns, Santa Claus and a rat named Remy. These were simple things, but they brought forth smiles and much needed distraction.                           
     What it all comes down to is this; suffering and loss and times of hopelessness come with the package of being human. It's how we respond  to those conditions that matters.
       "Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours.
        Yours are the eyes through which Christ's compassion for the world is to look out;
        yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good;
        and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now." -Saint Teresa of Avila-
                                 Caleb Joseph Hawbaker
                                    Christmas Eve, 2011