I had originally planned to remain silent today, letting others share their thoughts on this special day. But as I began to peruse some of the rhetoric being shared by a few (thankfully) that still are filled with hatred and venom, I began to think about love vs. hate and the role it plays in my life.
The accelerating growth of Firefighter Netcast has brought me away from my family more this year than at any other time in recent memory. We have been in many different places in just a few short months. We have been fortunate and honored to meet some very interesting people, and have generated relationships that are sure to endure for years to come.
Being away from home has affected my youngest daughter as well. We have attempted to bridge the miles with video phone calls on a nightly basis, no matter where we are.
But I want to relate an interesting development that has come about in the relationship between us. We have come to recognize a very interesting way of “sending our love”.
This revelation came about during a phone call while I was away in Baltimore this summer. My daughter asked me if I had “felt an overwhelming sense of love” from her at about 9:00 that morning. I initially smiled and wanted to instantly respond with a “yes, of course I did, sweetheart.” But I paused, and tried to remember what I was doing at 9:00.
Astounded, I realized that I had been thinking about how far she had come in spite of the rough start she had when she was born. You see, she was born at only 25 weeks, critically ill from a fetal infection, certain to die if left in the uterus, almost as certain to perish if taken out so early. It was the most agonizing time of our lives.
I vividly recall watching helplessly, transfixed at the heroic efforts to intubate her tiny purple body and give her life. Lungs just dried paper-like sacs, not lubricated enough to expand. Staff traded places each taking a shot at tubing my little girl, then stepping aside to let the next person give it a go, shaking their heads at their failures. Seconds turned to minutes. It reminded me of some of the difficult tubes we encountered in the field.
But this was different. This was my little girl.
I prayed harder than I had ever prayed before. But beyond that, I felt a sensation, one which I will have difficulty describing here. At that moment, there rose a powerful and palpable physical sensation in my torso, as if I were transmitting emotion straight to my helpless newborn. Crazy at it sounds, I felt as if I were “sending love” in an unspoken, non-tactile method. It was the first time thus had ever happened, but I remember it as clear as day, and will never forget it. I never spoke of it to anyone then or since. But the feeling has been a part of my life regularly from that moment on.
Remember the news story out of Australia last week about a baby born at 27 weeks? After hospital staff tried to resuscitate the child for 20 minutes they gave the parents the heartbreaking news that their little boy had died. But his mother placed the baby on her chest (just as we did ours) and used the kangaroo method, which involves skin-to-skin contact between mother and child. She remained in that position for two hours and soon the infant’s gasps became more regular and, after a while, he opened his eyes.
Certainly, this all could have a very reasonable explanation. The feeling I experienced in the NICU may have been an intense physical reaction to fear; the feeling my daughter had at 9:00 could have been coincidental. But I am certain it was all real.
Why am I telling this to you? Because I want you to know that is is possible. I want you to consider that you can also “send love”.
On the day in which we remember so many lost souls- brothers and sisters who gave their lives in the service to others- why not try open your hearts in a new and powerful way to send them love.
Concentrate on them.
Concentrate on their wives, their husbands, their mothers and fathers, their brothers, and their sisters.
Try to visualize their children, now nine years later, having grown up a bit more in the absence of their magnificent parent.
Then send them love.