I often write about the overwhelming love and strength I have found within the military community, but recently I have witnessed firsthand how truly extraordinary this community is when tragedy strikes.
I’ll preface this story by explaining a bit about the neighborhood I live in on post. A month after we moved in, my husband was gone on TDY for a few months so it was just me and my then 3-month-old. I found the Facebook page for the neighborhood when we first arrived, and introduced myself and my family. We received a warm welcome to the neighborhood complete with a welcome basket from the friendly neighbor committee (which I’ve now joined). There are a slew of social events and even playgroups for the kids. The Facebook page is always active too. We have numerous committees to include meals on wheels, friendly neighborhood/welcome wagon and emergency assistance. Recently, the emergency assistance program turned into full-blown outreach and it was astounding.
One of the families in the neighborhood had a 3 month old who had been battling health issues since birth. It began with a virus and soon she was in the hospital. The mother remained at the hospital with her daughter 24/7, the father is in CGSC, and the grandmothers had traveled to care for the couple’s toddler son. The neighborhood rallied around the family through their ordeal. We created a meal train to cook meals for the family as well as arranged play time for their son to give the grandparents a break, and free house cleaning services so they didn’t have that burden either.
Three weeks ago we heard that she was gaining weight and they were awaiting genetic testing and hoped to be home by Christmas. The mother posted a picture of her beautiful baby girl looking absolutely darling and healthy, as well as a picture of the hospital chapel she prayed in every day. We were all excited and shared in their hope of bringing her smile home.
A horrible turn of events occurred and within a week, her heart began to fail and it was time to let her pass. Members of our neighborhood who were able, gathered at the hospital chapel to witness the beautiful baptism of her beautiful baby girl. She was truly a little angel. Her mother requested joyful colors be worn as everyone celebrated the end of her suffering and journey to becoming an angel. Her death was not in vain as her organs were donated to help other children and her mother will be donating all of her breast milk. They are by far the most astounding family I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting.
There are no words to comfort a mother who has lost a child. There is truly nothing anyone can do to heal a pain that deep, but I know that their family is grateful for the fervent prayers and love shone upon them. We will keep praying for them; for comfort, peace, some way to overcome this. Their loss has taught us all how precious and fleeting time with our children are and to treasure each and every moment.
If I’ve learned anything from this, it is that the military community I have found is truly a family unit. The military community is close knit as it is, but even moreso in times of need. Hope, love, unity, and support pours from loving hearts. Those hearts don’t have to be related by blood. Family is those who rally around you when you need them most. The strength of a military community is an amazing assortment of friends who turn into family, and that is an irreplaceable gift I’m grateful to be a part of.